California Senate's anti-VoIP regulation bill moves forward

Members of the California state Senate voted 30-6 to pass a bill that will prevent the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) from regulating VoIP services.

The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications in April, states that the CPUC and other state agencies can't regulate VoIP without a federal mandate.

"It ensures that California will not become the first state in the nation to regulate the Internet," Padilla said.

Ever since the Senate voted unanimously to advance the bill on April 17, it has drawn fire from both consumer groups and the CPUC alike.

Consumer groups argue that the bill could cause issues for older consumers who don't want to purchase a VoIP service from one of the state's major telcos such as AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), which are both supporters of the bill.

While the CPUC does not have a regulatory activities centered on VoIP or other IP-based services, FierceEnterpriseCommunications reported earlier this month that that the commission's Legal Division believes that S.B. 1161 is so broadly written that, if enacted, the law would impede the CPUC's regulation of non-IP wireline and wireless service.

For more:
- The Sacramento Bee has this article

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