According to Eric Herman, Business Reporter for Chicago Sun-Times — “The era of the unregulated Internet could be drawing to a close.
In Washington, D.C. today, the Federal Communications Commission will hold a hearing on Voice over Internet Protocol, a technology that lets people make phone calls over the Internet — at a cost below that of traditional calls. The forum marks the first step toward likely regulation of the market, observers say. Any action the FCC takes could have a big impact on companies like SBC Communications, which are threatened by Voice over IP but are also starting to offer it.
Voice over IP has about 100,000 users in the United States. That’s less than 1 percent of the calling market, according to Kagan. But with millions of Americans getting cable modems or DSLs, the number of Internet callers is expected to multiply.
Voice over IP calling can be 25 to 30 percent cheaper than traditional phone service. A New Jersey based company called Vonage, for example, sells a plan with unlimited local calls and 500 long-distance minutes for $24.99 a month. For $34.99, the customer can have unlimited long distance in the United States and Canada, too.”
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