The U.S. House of Representatives today passed HR 1291, a bill that prohibits the Federal Communications Commission from levying local telephone company access charges on providers of Internet data services.
Sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (Republican-Michigan), the original bill prohibited charges on voice as well as data. But a change made to the bill by the House Commerce Committee last week preserves the right of the FCC to impose an access charge on voice calls made over the Internet using voice over IP technologies.
The move angered some proponents of voice over IP, who claim that it opens the door to taxation of voice messages over the Internet.
But Matt Miller, a spokesman for SBC Communications Inc. in San Antonio, said the bill "simply preserves the status quo. It doesn't change anything. The FCC has that authority right now" to impose access charges on voice calls.