FCC Issues Further Guidance for Complying with VoIP E-911 Order and Deadline
As described in an earlier update (dated July 28, 2005), the FCC recently issued an order imposing a number of E-911 obligations on “interconnected” voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) service providers, including offering full E-911 service by November 28, 2005 and filing a “Compliance Letter” with the FCC that the provider has achieved full compliance by that deadline. The FCC Enforcement Bureau issued a Public Notice yesterday detailing the specific information that must be included in providers’ compliance letters, as well as offering further guidance on the requirement to provide E-911 to VoIP subscribers.
The FCC’s order requires interconnected VoIP providers to, among other things, transmit all 911 calls to the appropriate public safety answering point (“PSAP”), designated statewide default answering point or appropriate local emergency authority that serves the caller’s “Registered Location” (the physical location of the VoIP subscriber).1 The VoIP provider must also forward the caller’s Automatic Numbering Information, or “ANI,” as well as the caller’s Registered Location to the extent that the PSAP or other answering point is capable of receiving and utilizing such information.
The order also requires interconnected VoIP providers to file a letter with the Commission on or before November 28, 2005, reporting their level of compliance with the requirements discussed above. The Public Notice issued today lists the specific information to be included in the compliance letters, which includes the percentage of subscribers to whom the provider is able to provide full E-911. The Bureau also asks providers to include the percentage of answering points within the provider’s service that area are capable of receiving and processing ANI and Registered Location information.
Interestingly, the Public Notice states that a provider who is not in full compliance with the VoIP E-911 rules should describe in its compliance letter “plans for coming into full compliance with the requirements of the [FCC’s VoIP E-911] order, including its anticipated timeframe for such compliance.” It also states that the Bureau no longer expects VoIP providers
to disconnect subscribers to which they cannot provide E-911, but it does expect providers to discontinue marketing efforts and to refuse any new customers in areas in which they cannot provide full E-911. This indicates that the Bureau may be willing to view November 28 as a soft deadline for providers who are not in full compliance for current customers but submit a plan for shoring up any E-911 shortcomings. The Bureau’s notice does not provide such flexibility, however, for service to new customers.
We have been assisting interconnected VoIP providers in filing with the FCC the periodic VoIP E-911 reports associated with the FCC’s order described above, and encourage VoIP service providers to contact us with any questions regarding the filing of Compliance Letters or regarding operational compliance with the VoIP E-911 rules.
1 The Public Notice observes that AT&T, MCI and Verizon have plans to implement technology that will permit them to automatically detect when a customer has moved his or her VoIP service to a new location and ensure that the customer continues to receive 911 service.