The FCBA State and Local Practice Committee will sponsor a CLE on Tuesday, February 13 from 6:00 – 8:15 p.m. entitled “The State of VoIP: Perspectives on State Jurisdiction Regarding Voice over Internet Protocol.” This program will be held at the Renaissance Hotel, 999 Ninth Street, NW, Congressional Ballroom, Washington, DC.
The scope of State authority over Voice over Internet Protocol Services remains in dispute, and at least two states are currently directly addressing the issue. This CLE will offer varying perspectives on both the legal aspects and what might be optimum State Commission policy.
In July 2015, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission found that Charter Communications’ fixed Voice over Internet Protocol service was subject to State jurisdiction. See, In the Matter of the Complaint of the Minnesota Department of Commerce Against the Charter Affiliates Regarding Transfer of Customers, Order Finding Jurisdiction and Requiring Compliance Filing, Docket No. P6716,5615/C-14-383 (July 28, 2017). That MPUC determination was challenged successfully by Charter in Minnesota’s Federal District Court. The District Court’s ruling has been appealed to the Eighth Circuit, where briefing has just been completed.
Similarly, in 2013, the Vermont Supreme Court upheld a Vermont Public Utility Commission determination that “fixed” VoIP service is subject to PUC authority as a matter of Vermont law to the extent the calls are intrastate and found no error in the PUC’s determination that the service can be separated into intrastate and interstate components. In re Investigation into Regulation of Voice Over Internet Protocol Servs., 2013 VT 23, 193 Vt. 439, 70 A.3d 997 (March 29, 2013). The PUC concluded, and the Court agreed, that even if fixed VoIP were an information service for purposes of the federal Communications Act, this would not preclude all state regulation of the service on grounds of either express or field preemption. On remand, the PUC is charged with making a determination as to whether VoIP service is an information service or telecommunications service, for purposes of establishing the scope of State regulation. The Commission is now poised to rule, following a hearing on the Vermont Administrative Law Judges’ recommendations last year.
6:00 – 6:05 p.m. Welcome and Introductions
Lisa Ross, Attorney, Birch, Horton, Bittner & Cherot, P.C.
6:05 – 7:05 p.m. VoIP Oversight: The “State of Play”
Brad Ramsay, General Counsel, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC)
The Honorable Dan Lipschultz, Commissioner, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
The Honorable Sarah Hoffman, Commissioner, Vermont Public Utility Commission
George Young, General Counsel, Vermont Public Utility Commission
7:05 – 7:15 p.m. Break
7:15 – 8:15 p.m. Sector Participants Respond
Andrew Klein, Managing Attorney, Klein Law Group PLLC
Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Public Knowledge
Ray Gifford, Partner, Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP
David Springe, Executive Director, National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates
Randolph May, President, Free State Foundation