On May 20, 2009, our firm advised clients of the Federal Communications Commission‘s (“FCC” or “Commission”) recent extension of Section 214(a) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, to interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (“I-VoIP”) providers. Specifically, the Commission required all I-VoIP providers to comply with the FCC‘s streamlined discontinuance rules applicable to non-dominant providers under Part 63 before discontinuing, reducing, or impairing service to customers. This includes notice to all affected customers and relevant state authorities and filing an application for authorization to proceed with the I-VoIP provider‘s proposed discontinuance plan. On July 29, 2009, notice of the extension of Section 214(a) was published in the Federal Register. The new discontinuance rules take effect on August 28, 2009.
Also on July 29, 2009, notice of the extension of the date for compliance with the requirements adopted pursuant to the FCC‘s Second Internet-based TRS Order was published in the Federal Register. In its First Internet-based TRS Order, the Commission required Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Service (“TRS”) providers, specifically Video Relay Service (“VRS”) and IP Relay providers, to register both existing and new users and to assign to each a North American Numbering Plan (“NANP”) telephone number. The FCC explained that this registration mechanism would facilitate the effective provision of E911 service.
In its Second Internet-based TRS Order, the Commission established a permissive calling period, during which Internet-based TRS providers could continue to transmit non-emergency calls on behalf of existing unregistered IP Relay and VRS customers. However, at the end of the permissive calling period on June 30, 2009, the FCC required providers to cease transmission of non-emergency calls for unregistered users. In response to a joint petition for extension of the June 30th deadline, the Commission established a new compliance deadline of November 12, 2009. Therefore, VRS and IP Relay providers must stop completing non-emergency calls for unregistered users after November 12, 2009.
As discussed in the May 20th Client Advisory, clients offering bi-directional, PSTN-accessible VoIP services, one-directional VoIP services, and those who provide the underlying IP-based transport services to VoIP providers, should carefully review and comprehend the FCC‘s new VoIP discontinuance rules. In addition, all affected clients should analyze and understand not only the business implications, but also the complex legal issues caused by the FCC‘s decision. For more specific guidance, please see the May 20th Advisory.
Additionally, clients offering TRS services should continue registering existing users and establish a mechanism to register new users. Because providers were required to commence assigning NANP numbers to existing users by December 31, 2008, clients should already have a registration system in place. However, the FCC‘s recent decision allows providers to take advantage of the extension to test and verify the system. Clients should use this opportunity to ensure the accuracy of their registration systems and to fully incorporate the Commission‘s requirements.
Clients who have any further questions or concerns about the information contained in the Advisory should contact Jonathan Marashlian at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-714-1313.