Michigan Eyeing VoIP Rules

The state's Public Service Commission has issued an order fast-tracking an investigation of VoIP in what may be the first step to regulation.

Michigan is the latest state to be wondering what, if anything, it should do about VoIP.

The Michigan Public Service Commission has issued an order fast-tracking an investigation of VoIP, with comments due in only two weeks, by April 2, 2004. The commission followed that order up with a press release that summarizes the type of information they're seeking: Contact: Judy Palnau (517) 241-3323

MPSC Starts Investigation into Voice over Internet Protocol Issues in Michigan, U-14073

March 16, 2004 The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today issued an order starting an investigation into Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) issues in Michigan, requesting that comments by filed by April 1. VOIP is a developing technology that may be used to transmit voice conversations over the Internet. It has been the focus on ongoing debates among state and federal regulators, legislators and the telecommunications industry. ?The Commission has the responsibility to telecommunication customers in Michigan to protect both the users of Voice over Internet Protocol and the customers who may be asked to assume the cost of maintaining a network that may not be supported by VOIP providers,? noted MPSC Chair J. Peter Lark. To form a consistent regulatory policy, the MPSC is requesting comments on VOIP activity in Michigan on the following:

The number and type of VOIP providers providing service in Michigan, including incumbent local exchange carriers, competitive local exchange carriers and unlicensed VOIP providers.

  • Estimations of the proper degree of regulation, based on transmission method, to ensure that Michigan residents are protected by using VOIP, while allowing VOIP services to avoid unnecessarily burdensome regulations.
  • Information regarding the effect of VOIP on telephone numbering resources, including non-licensed VOIP providers? access to numbering resources through licensed telecommunication carriers and VOIP end users? ability to port their current landline or wireless telephone number to their VOIP equipment.
  • Access to emergency calling, including VOIP end users? unrestricted access to 9-1-1, non-carrier charges for 9-1-1 access and public safety answering points costs to locate VOIP callers and provide a call-back number.
  • Whether VOIP providers may participate in and have access to the federal Universal Service Fund to provide service to rural areas, hospitals and schools; the ability of VOIP carriers to provide low-cost service similar to Lifeline and Link-up for low-income end users; and the need for VOIP end users to contribute to the USF.
  • VOIP services? effect on the current access charge structure.
  • The ability of VOIP services to provide abbreviated dialing (2-1-1, 3-1-1, etc.) programs and toll-free dialing to end users.
  • Other technical issues, such as Internet virus potential, power outage risks, quality of service and accessibility of records by law enforcement.

The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Labor & Economic Growth. Case No. U-14073