FCC Changes Deadline that Threatened VoIP Subscriber Cut-Off

The FCC on Friday morning extended the deadline for VoIP providers to gather subscribers’ acknowledgements that they might not have access to E911 calling.

Commissioners moved the date from Aug. 29 to Sept. 28, giving providers some relief from the fear that thousands of VoIP subscribers stood to lose their service if they did not respond to providers messages by Aug. 29.

The acknowledgement requirement is meant as an interim safeguard while VoIP providers work to meet the FCCs order requiring full E911 compliance by the end of November.

This is great news, but better would be to find another solution and within the 30 days, says telecom analyst Jeff Kagan. In the time since the order was placed by the FCC, VoIP has been gaining steam. There are too many VoIP users who have cut their traditional phone service for turning off VoIP service to be a valid solution. This is 2005, for crying out loud.

CLECs and other VoIP providers have been working to notify their subscribers, and get their acknowledgement, by Monday, despite predictions a number of smaller VoIP companies would not comply with the requirement.

Still, says Raul Martynek, CEO of Eureka Networks, which provisions VoIP over its own network, the bigger picture is what the overall E911 rules mean.

All this stuff is moving toward a situation where it doesnt matter if youre a cable company, if youre an RBOC, if youre a competitive CLEC like Eureka, or if youre a pure-play VoIP company like Vonage, youre all going to be regulated the same way, and were going to eliminate the arbitrage that exists today because technology has obsoleted our definitions, he says.

In the meantime, wholesalers are taking a wait-and-see approach. Their customers must notify end users, so there is not much wholesalers can do. New Global Telecoms Guy McAree, vice president of product marketing, says the company in July issued an acknowledgment letter to its service provider customers, alerting them to limitations of its current E911 service. Those customers signed the forms, but now it is up to those CLECs and other providers to contact end users.
Its not something we have actively tracked or monitored, McAree says.

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