The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been accused of reversing its hands-off approach to internet regulation.
According to US reports, the FCC was planning to submit a proposal to the US Senate this week, recommending that ISPs pay access fees to local telcos - a tariff they have so far avoided under US law.
But industry observers claimed this would be a mistake. Jeff Pulver, president of Pulver, the sponsor of the last internet telephony conference, said: 'Forcing new players to achieve the goals by historic mean-of-access fees ... will actually hurt those we hope will benefit from universal service, as it will forestall competition and discourage innovation.'
ISPs' legal status as enhanced service providers has always irritated online providers because they have to pay local telcos for using infrastructure, as well as having to pay into a universal access fund that provides advanced services like Net access to schools and libraries.
The ongoing debate has reared its head again, following changes to the 1998 appropriations legislation, which required the previous FCC decision to be reviewed.
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