Beginning in June 2013, the FCC authorized what is supposed to be a six-month trial during which five VoIP service providers are allowed direct access to telephone number resources. The five providers – Vonage, SmartEdgeNet (d/b/a Edge Communications), Wiltel Communications (an affiliate of Level 3), Millicorp, and IntelePeer – have begun filing the status reports required by the FCC. Initial reports were to be filed 60 days after each company requested direct access to numbers with monthly reports filed thereafter. So far, all five providers have filed at least their initial reports, but only Vonage has reported any ported – or new numbers in service – the other four carriers are still in the testing stages.
For instance, in its second report, dated October 15, WilTel reported that it “remains in the testing phase of its trial and has not yet begun porting numbers or assigning new numbers to live customers.” It did indicate that it has completed initial testing for call routing in the Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, and Los Angeles rate centers and expects to begin porting numbers during the next reporting period.
Millicorp submitted its initial report on October 1, reporting that it was still in Phase One of its trial proposal and had not yet ported any numbers. Likewise, IntelePeer, which filed its initial report on October 25 and SmartEdgeNet, which filed its initial report on September 25 and second report on October 25, each reported that they had not yet placed any new numbers in service or ported any numbers. In contrast, Vonage has filed three reports to date and reported in October that it has placed 572 new numbers in service and processed almost 81,000 port-in and 11 port-out requests.
In an interesting development, Vonage filed an ex parte on October 29, reporting that it had been successful in working with AT&T and Verizon in the Atlanta and Boston markets, respectively, and was on track to have ported approximately 115,000 numbers in those markets by the end of the five-week production phase of their trial. However, Vonage reported that it was unable to even initiate its trial in the Phoenix market, where CenturyLink is the ILEC, and has decided to cancel plans to port numbers in that market.
According to Vonage, CenturyLink was unwilling to amend its interconnection agreement with Vonage’s CLEC partner to allow the CLEC to deliver PSTN-originated traffic to Vonage’s OCN over existing trunks – between CenturyLink and the CLEC. Instead, CenturyLink said that it would only exchange traffic with Vonage if Vonage purchased its own dedicated TDM trunks and entered into a commercial agreement with CenturyLink for the exchange of TDM traffic.
Vonage reported that it told the FCC it had two policy concerns about CenturyLink’s position. First, it may conflict with the regulatory framework for the exchange of TDM traffic because the agreement would resemble a Section 251/252 interconnection agreement but would not be filed with the state commission. Second, Vonage said that such an arrangement would be a “step backwards with respect to the Commission’s long-term goal of transitioning to all-IP networks,” and would create a disincentive for CenturyLink to move to IP interconnection.
So far, it looks like the VoIP numbering trials may be shedding more light on the progress of voluntary IP interconnection negotiations than the impact of allowing VoIP providers to have direct access to numbering.