FCC Seeks Comment on Extending E911 Rules to One-Way Outbound-Only VoIP, Improve Location Capability of Inteconnected VoIP
UPDATE: The FCC has released its order and notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the issues discussed below. Note also that the Commission has also requested comment on whether to revise the definition of "interconnected VoIP" to include calls made over any "Internet connection" (thus capturing VoIP calls over dial-up) and/or calls that connect to domestic telephone numbers (US E.164 numbers) rather than just the PSTN, which would cover calls made entirely over an IP-network. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Third Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 11-107) is available for your reading pleasure here.
At this morning's Open Meeting, the FCC adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comment on whether to extend E911 rules for two-way interconnected VoIP providers to outbound-only interconnected VoIP services. If adopted, many one-way VoIP services that have thus far avoided FCC "regulation" may soon be subject to federal E911 obligations. And like all things regulatory, this could possibly open the door to additional regulatory obligations that have already eroded somewhat the concept that VoIP is an unregulated IP service, obligations such as CALEA, accessibility/disability, local number portability, and FCC discontinuance notice requirements. Indeed, the FCC is already poised to release its final rules to extend new accessibility/disability rules, including FCC registration and TRS funding/reporting, on one-way interconnected VoIP services pursuant to the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act that was signed into law last October, which we discussed in detail here.
The rulemaking also seeks comment on how to improving automatic location information for VoIP 911 calls and other location-based technologies. The FCC also adopted a report and order revising location accuracy rules for wireless carriers.
At this time, the report and order and the proposed rulemaking have not yet been released. For the time being, additional information can be gleaned from the FCC's news release, available here.