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VoIP Provider files Net Neutrality complaint With FCC

A Florida-based VoIP carrier cites net neutrality and filed a complaint against a Georgia utility and broadband provider, after the utility company was accused of stealing VoIP services using the network to deliver voice services without even paying for it.

L2Networks files a net neutrality complaint at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Tuesday, the first formal complaint for the FCC net neutrality rules passed last December 2010.

L2Networks' filing came after the telecommunications manager for the City of Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission, a municipal utility in Georgia, filed a theft-of-service complaints in Dougherty County Police Department in Albany earlier this year.

Albany Water assertion that the provider VoIP (voice over IP) should be paying for access to its fiber-optic network violates FCC net neutrality rules except the broadband network providers from selectively discriminating against Web-based content and services, L2Networks said in a press release. If the FCC allows the Albany Water’s effort to collect payments from L2Networks to move forward, other broadband network operators may be emboldened to ask for money from popular Web-based services like Google, Facebook and Netflix, L2Networks said.

The case could lead to an "irreversible ripple effect with the creation of various legal challenges across virtually every national content and application providers," Kraig Beahn, the CEO of L2Networks said in a press briefing. "We are deeply concerned that the alleged claim could potentially change the landscape of the national Internet market of residential and commercial customers to see it now."

The two companies have a business relationship dating back to 2007 that went sour in 2011, Beahn said in an email. The L2Networks has in its possession a "mountain" of paperwork related to anticompetitive practices by the Albany Water, he said.

"The real issue is the possibility that almost any ISP can file a theft-of-service complaint if they feel someone intrudes competitive application service provider in their territory or simply want to eliminate such competition from domestic market, "he added.

Albany Water officials did not respond to two email messages and a voice mail message seeking comment on FCC complaint by L2Networks. A spokesman in the Dougherty County Police Department confirmed that the Albany Water filed a theft-of-service complaint and said an investigation is ongoing.

L2Networks, providing voice and broadband services to about 2,250 business customers in southwest Georgia, also filed a complaint against the Albany Water Georgia Public Service Commission in March. The Georgia complaint also accuses the Albany Water of temporary locking L2Networks employees out of the network building leased from the Albany Water company while there are problems with the equipment inside the facility.

L2Networks buys ethernet transport from Albany Water to serve the voice and Internet customers, Beahn said. The theft-of-service complaint stems from a single customer using L2Networks VoIP services over broadband services of Albany Water, he said. L2Networks also provides IP transit service in Albany Water, he said.