Federal Court in MN calls Charter’s VoIP an info service exempt from state regulation

On Monday a Federal Court in Minnesota ruled that Charter’s cable VoIP is an information service exempt from state regulation.

The decision and timing are of interest as the Minnesota Legislature discusses VoIP (HF1665). (You can hear arguments for and against regulations and VoIP at a House Committee meeting from March (2017).

Here’s more on the recent decision from Law360

“The court agrees with Charter Advanced that Spectrum Voice engages in net protocol conversion, and that this feature renders it an “information service” under applicable legal and administrative precedent,” according to the opinion. The case stems from Charter’s reassignment of customers to another subsidiary, which the Minnesota Department of Commerce said was not certified to offer the service. The department filed a complaint against Charter with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, and the regulator ordered Charter to comply with the state’s rules. In turn, in October 2015, Charter launched the present suit seeking to block the order. Although Judge Nelson agreed that “the frank purpose” behind Charter’s customer shuffling was to “limit the reach of state regulation, thereby enhancing Charter’s market competitiveness,” she said the service fit the qualifications of an information service. “The touchstone of the information services inquiry is whether Spectrum Voice acts on the customer’s information “here a phone call ” in such a way as to “transform that information,” the opinion said.

 

This entry was posted in MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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