Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Regulating broadband communications: The VON Alliance

Innovators in developing industries often find themselves in advance of existing communication regulations because they are devising or using products unanticipated by existing law. In that case, one of two things can happen.

Legislators and regulatory commissions like the FCC rely on legacy law designed for a different technological ecosystem, or miss their mark through an understandably poor insight into developments, which are, after all, cutting edge, being deployed in unanticipated ways by surprise players.

One takeaway of the Fall VON 2007 conference is that the VoIP environment has grown so swiftly in the last 10 years that it is now too big to fly under the radar of regulation. This presents danger and opportunity — the kind of opportunity to create a regulatory environment that can serve as a model to the rest of the world. The VON Alliance sees it as an opportunity to do it right.

This doesn't mean replicating legacy law, but developing legislation that works to balance the legitimate interests of all stakeholders — content creators, developers, media and users.

What this does mean is creating feasible balances across a broad field of concerns — federal, state and local law, copyright protection for fair use, licensing agreement liability and maintaining an open environment that fosters and rewards initiative and innovation.

The VON Alliance is currently petitioning the FCC to keep broadband communications unfettered by geography-based TV and cable rules. Its mission is to encourage the entire industry to use every opportunity to educate regulators at all levels about how Internet video distribution works, share information and support each other in shaping model regulation for this nascent industry.

Membership in the VON Alliance is free and open to businesses and individuals.

For more information, visit www.pulver.com.

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