FCC VoIP Requirements

The FCC has released the text of its order allowing interconnected VoIP providers to obtain numbering resources directly from the Numbering Administrator. See our blog “FCC Says VoIP Providers Can Get Numbers Directly” dated 6/19/15. Not surprisingly, the FCC has created a separate “Numbering Authorization Application” process which will require interconnected VoIP providers to jump through various hoops in order to be “authorized” to obtain numbers nationwide.

To get “authorized,” an interconnected VoIP provider will be required to file an application through the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System. As such, it does not appear that the FCC will be creating an online form that can be filled-in. Instead, the provider will have to create its own document containing all of the required information. Fortunately, the process is not unlike the process used to obtain other federal and state authorizations and therefore familiar to practitioners such as TMI.

Applications must contain a large amount of information, including:

  • Name, address, and telephone number, and contact information for personnel qualified to address issues relating to regulatory requirements, compliance with FCC’s rules, 911, and law enforcement;
  • An acknowledgment that: (1) the authorization is subject to compliance with applicable FCC numbering rules; numbering authority delegated to the states; and industry guidelines and practices regarding numbering as applicable to telecommunications carriers; and (2) the applicant must file requests for numbers with the relevant state commission(s) at least 30 days before requesting numbers from the Numbering Administrators;
  • Proof that the applicant is or will be capable of providing service within 60 days of the numbering resources activation date;
  • Certification that the applicant complies with: (1) its obligations to contribute to the federal USF, TRS, NANP and LNP funds; (2) its obligations to pay regulatory fees; and (3) its obligations under FCC’s 911 rules for interconnected VoIP providers.
  • Certification that the applicant possesses the financial, managerial, and technical expertise to provide reliable service. This certification must include the name of applicant’s key management and technical personnel and state that none of the identified personnel are being or have been investigated by the FCC or any law enforcement or regulatory agency for failure to comply with any law, rule, or order; and
  • Certification that no party to the application is subject to a denial of Federal benefits under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988.

VoIP Getting NumbersAfter the application is received, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau will perform an initial review for conformity with procedural rules. Among other things, the Bureau staff will verify that the applicant filed its Form 477 and Form 499, if applicable, and check the applicant’s status under the FCCs “red light rule” (which restricts processing of applications filed by parties with outstanding debts owed to the FCC). Once the Bureau determines the application meets these requirements, it will release a Public Notice seeking comment on the application.

Applications will be deemed granted on the 31st day after the Public Notice is released unless the Bureau notifies the applicant that the grant will not be automatically effective. Applications could be removed from automatic grant for several reasons, including failure to promptly reply to Bureau inquiries and the filing of comments raising public interest concerns.

Once the Numbering Authorization Application is granted, the interconnected VoIP provider must still navigate through a host of additional, operational, and reporting requirements, including:

  • Obtaining its own unique Operating Company Number (OCN) number;
  • Maintaining the accuracy of all contact information and certifications in its application, updating any changes within 30 days;
  • Complying with the numerous FCC rules relating to numbering (including numbering utilization and optimization requirements and providing access to certain N11 dialing arrangements), and the filing of semi-annual Numbering Resource Utilization and Forecast (NRUF) reports;
  • Complying with guidelines and procedures adopted by states as well as all industry guidelines and practices for numbering that apply to telecommunications carriers; and
  • File requests for numbers with the relevant state commission(s) at least 30 days before requesting numbers from the Numbering Administrators, including accurate regulatory and numbering contact information.

FCCInterconnected VoIP providers that obtain numbering resources will also be subject to the full panoply of the FCC’s enforcement authority, including loss of Numbering Authorization and assessment of forfeitures penalties, which can be as high as $160,000 for each violation or day of a continuing violation, up to $1.575 million.

The FCC’s decision only applies to interconnected VoIP providers; it does not allow non-interconnected (one-way) VoIP providers to obtain numbers. It also applies only to North American Numbering Plan (NANP) telephone numbers.

The rules outlined above creating the new Numbering Authorization Application require approval of the Office of Management and Budget before they can become effective. See our blog “What is the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)?” dated 8/5/13. This process will take a minimum of 145 days to complete. Interconnected VoIP providers interesting in obtaining numbering resources should use this time to review their compliance with all of the federal requirements applicable to interconnected VoIP providers, both operational and financial. TMI provides a number of tools to assist providers in identifying their requirements and can provide expert advice on how to comply.

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VoIP (Digital Phone) Requirements