Celebrating 20 Years of Innovation: The Pulver Order and The CommLaw Group’s Visionary Journeys
WASHINGTON, DC – December 15, 2023 – Two decades ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ushered in a new era of telecommunications with the Pulver Order, a landmark decision that shaped the future of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this pivotal moment, we reflect on the transformative journey of our firm, Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC, The CommLaw Group, and the visionary leadership of its managing partner, Jonathan Marashlian.
The Pulver Order: A Paradigm Shift in Telecommunications
In 2004, the FCC, foreseeing the transformative potential of VoIP technology, issued the Pulver Order. This monumental and bold decision classified VoIP services as unregulated information services under FCC jurisdiction, eliminating regulatory uncertainties and paving the way for the dynamic growth of internet-based communication services.
Divergent Paths: ACTA Petition vs. Jeff Pulver’s Vision
In the backdrop of this regulatory shift, the America’s Carriers Telecommunications Association (ACTA) played a central role. ACTA, a trade association representing traditional telecom carriers, filed the ACTA Petition with the FCC. This petition sought FCC regulation of emerging VoIP technologies, deeming them an unfair competitive threat to their members who were subject to the same Title II common carrier regulations as AT&T.
Helein & Associates served as counsel to ACTA during this period. The firm’s involvement underscored ACTA’s regulatory concerns and its perception of VoIP as a potential disruptor. The ACTA Petition requested a regulatory framework akin to traditional carriers.
Jeff Pulver, on the other hand, took a different stance. His pivotal role in Free World Dial-up (FWD) and advocacy for the VoIP industry showcased a vision for innovation and a less regulated VoIP landscape. This contrasting perspective led to the FCC’s Pulver Order, reflecting a strategic move toward embracing the transformative potential of VoIP.
Marashlian’s Bold Transformation: From ACTA to Leading Advocate
In 1998, Jonathan Marashlian, a recent law school graduate, joined Helein & Associates, which, at the time, was deeply entrenched representing traditional telephony providers and naturally aligned with the regulatory model espoused by ACTA. Recognizing the untapped potential of VoIP and seeing that the future was more promising than the past, Marashlian embarked on a bold transformation of the law firm’s direction. By the time of the Pulver Order’s release (9 years after the ACTA Petition’s filing and 6 years after joining Helein & Associates), Marashlian had successfully guided the firm on a revolutionary journey from being an anachronism to leading voice in the VoIP and emerging communications technologies legal sector. A journey ultimately leading to the formation of Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC, The CommLaw Group, which stands today as a go-to partner for VoIP and advanced communications & information technology companies throughout the globe.
The Pulver Order: 20th Anniversary
To commemorate this milestone, a celebration is planned at the National Press Club in Washington on Monday, February 12th. Jeff Pulver, the visionary founder of VON and Vonage, along with retired FCC Chairman Michael Powell, will join industry leaders to discuss 20 years of unleashing VoIP as an unregulated service.
The event is not merely a nostalgic look back; it’s a forward-looking forum, setting the stage for discussions on the future trajectory of VoIP technology. A panel discussion will feature key figures such as Jeff Pulver, Michael Powell, and legal luminary Glenn Richards from Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman.
The Pulver Order was a groundbreaking decision by the FCC, recognizing the potential of internet-based communication technologies and exempting VoIP from traditional regulations. This visionary move not only spurred innovation but also provided regulatory stability, eliminating barriers and accelerating the growth of Internet applications globally.
All of us at Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC, The CommLaw Group, proudly stand at the intersection of this transformative history, highlighting the importance of vision and bold action. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Pulver Order, we acknowledge that embracing change and anticipating the future are essential elements in avoiding obsolescence in the dynamic world of telecommunications. The Pulver Order continues to symbolize a beacon of innovation, setting the stage for further advancements in the digital era.