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FCC Requires Cable VoIP to Pay Fees

Cable operators will need to hand over a portion of their voice-over-Internet-protocol revenue to the federal government to help fund the Federal Communications Commission’s annual budget, the agency ruled Monday.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association didn’t oppose the payment of VoIP regulatory fees, especially if the agency based cable VoIP contributions on a per-phone-number basis.

The FCC, however, opted for a revenue-based formula, which doesn’t easily produce the per-phone-number burden of the VoIP regulatory-fee mandate. That’s because cable operators in many cases package VoIP service in a bundle with video and data services under a single price.

To derive the actual amount owed under the FCC’s revenue-based formula, cable VoIP providers will need to allocate a portion of their triple-play revenue solely to VoIP -- something cable MSOs already do to calculate franchise fees owed to local governments for the provision of traditional video services.

For the 2007 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, the FCC needs to collect $290.2 million to fund nearly 100% of its operations. Cable, which has to provide $48.3 million of that total, may collect 75 cents from each video subscriber to do so. That’s down from 79 cents from the prior fiscal year, when the FCC had to raise $298.7 million in regulatory fees.