EDUCATIONAL ADVISORY – FCC Regulatory Classification of Mobile Calling Apps


In recent years, our Firm has witnessed a great deal of confusion, uncertainty, and speculation regarding how the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC,” or the “Commission”) classifies mobile calling apps for regulatory purposes.  Unfortunately, to date, the FCC has not explicitly defined the regulatory status of such services.

However, this does not mean mobile calling apps have not been on the Commission’s radar. In 2009, the FCC asked Google a series of questions regarding its Google Voice offering, including whether the services were potentially regulated as Interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol Service (“I-VoIP”), telecommunications, and/or telecommunications service. 

Since receiving Google’s response in October 2009, the FCC has neither issued any public decisions regarding Google Voice’s regulatory classification, nor taken any enforcement actions against Google or other mobile calling app providers for violations of the Commission’s rules.  Yet, this does not mean that the Commission has moved on from its consideration of the regulatory status of mobile calling apps – and can and may take action on the regulatory status of such services at any time.  Additionally, based upon the past conduct of the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”), the Universal Service Fund (“USF”) Administrator, mobile calling apps may be classified as a USF-assessable service in the event of a USAC audit. 

In the meantime, there remains a great deal of speculation regarding the proper regulatory classification of mobile calling apps.  Given this uncertainty, our firm has prepared an Educational Advisory examining the potential regulatory classifications – and consequences thereof – that the FCC may apply to mobile calling app services should it choose to do so in the near future.

We hope you find the following information both useful and informative.

Should you have any questions regarding the potential regulatory classification of your mobile calling app service offering, please do not hesitate to contact Jonathan S. Marashlian at 703-714-1300, or

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD EDUCATIONAL ADVISORY:  Mobile Calling Apps Regulatory Classification

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