VoIP providers are one step closer to being able to directly obtain new telephone numbers, an operation that has until this point required a traditional telephone provider serving as intermediary.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) released a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order, & Notice of Inquiry” on April 19th that asks for comment regarding the possibility of letting VoIP providers obtain telephone numbers directly.
It asked for comment on three key issues:
Should interconnected VoIP providers be allowed to obtain telephone numbers directly from the Number Plan Administrator and the Pooling Administrator?
Second, it asked what amendments to the FCC’s definition of interconnected VoIP service or the telephone numbering rules would be needed to permit direct access to telephone numbers by interconnected VoIP providers.
It also asked to what extent it needed to expand access to telephone numbers for other services and applications that use telephone numbers as an addressing system for communications. Examples of this include home security systems, payment authorization services, text messaging services, and telematics, among others.
As part of the document, the FCC established a six-month trial period to let certain interconnected VoIP providers test out directly obtaining telephone numbers.
The trial is limited to VoIP providers with direct-access waiver petitions pending with the FCC, and it is limited to only 5 percent of the numbers used by the provider.
Comments on issues raised in the document are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 30 days after that. Typically, Federal Register publication occurs within a month of release of the document by the FCC, according to a recent article in Mondaq.com.
The Notice also opened the door for the abolition of geography-based telephone number assignment.
In the Notice, the FCC asked if they should continue to maintain the current connection between telephone numbers and geographic areas in light of of the increasing consumer use of wireless and IP-based technologies, would the removal of the relationship between telephone numbers and geographic areas affect the ability of consumers to access emergency services and services for those with disabilities, and would the removal of the relationship between telephone numbers and geographic areas affect the ability of consumers to access emergency services and services for those with disabilities.
Edited by Ashley Caputo