Microsoft becomes charter member of VON coalition

Microsoft is lending its weight to efforts to persuade the US government not to ban Internet telephony.

Microsoft has become a charter member of the Voice on the 'Net (VON) Coalition, the group has announced.

"The Internet as a multimedia communication network is only in its infancy, and the VON Coalition is helping it mature," says John Ludwig, vice-president in the Internet platform and tools division at Microsoft, which recently released beta versions of its Internet ActiveX Conferencing Platform and NetMeeting, which offers real-time application-sharing and data-conferencing capabilities.

The VON Coalition was formed to oppose attempts by telecommunications carriers to have the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ban Internet telephony software and regulate the Internet. The group's growing membership, as well as statements an FCC official reportedly made recently, are boosting its confidence that the Internet will not be subjected to the same rules as existing telecommunications.

In a speech at Inet '96 in Montreal a few weeks ago, FCC chief of staff Blair Levin said: "I am also strongly inclined to believe that the right answer at this time is not to place restrictions on software providers, or to subject Internet telephony to the same rules that apply to conventional circuit-switched voice carriers. ... More importantly, we shouldn't be looking for ways to subject new technologies to old rules; the last thing we want to do is stop that improvement by thoughtless regulation."

The VON Coalition's membership includes about 90 Internet telecommunications-related companies and more than 460 individuals in more than 25 countries worldwide.The group can be reached through its Web site at http://www.von.org.

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