During its April 2013 open meeting, the FCC adopted an Order, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), and a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) addressing historic telephone numbering assignment practices. The FCC issued an Order allowing Vonage to obtain a limited amount of numbers directly from numbering administrators for a six-month trial period. The NPRM proposes to allow all providers of interconnected VoIP services, and perhaps other entities, to obtain numbers directly from numbering administrators, while the NOI seeks comment on the broader implications of decoupling numbers from geography.
We provide a brief summary of the Order, the NPRM and the NOI. The FCC is seeking comment on multiple issues and proposals that have been presented by various parties in a record that has been developed since 2005 when the first waiver of the FCC’s numbering assignment rules was granted to a non-carrier entity. Comments and reply comments are due 30 days and 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, respectively. We will alert you to when the comment dates are established. We would be pleased to provide you with additional information or answer any questions that you may have.
The Order Grants Vonage a Limited and Conditional Six-Month Trial to Obtain Telephone Numbers Directly from Numbering Administrators
Current FCC rules require entities seeking direct assignment of numbering resources from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator or the Pooling Administrator to provide evidence that they are authorized to provide service in the area in which they are requesting numbers. Only telecommunications carriers that have facilities-based authority to offer local exchange service or an FCC wireless license are able to obtain direct assignment of telephone numbers.
Interconnected VoIP providers, which typically do not hold the requisite license, are unable to obtain telephone numbers directly from the numbering administrators and instead purchase wholesale services from competitive local exchange carriers in order to obtain telephone numbers. Vonage and other interconnected VoIP providers have requested waivers of the relevant rules, arguing, for example, that direct access to numbers would improve network reliability, reduce costs by minimizing reliance on wholesale third-party networks, improve states’ ability to monitor and manage number utilization, and enhance the overall quality of customer calls. In the Order, the FCC granted Vonage a limited, conditional waiver to test direct access to numbering resources for up to 5% of the numbers that Vonage currently accesses through intermediaries for a six-month trial period. Other parties that filed waivers can also qualify to participate in the trial but must first make supplemental filings with the FCC.
The NPRM Seeks Comment on Permanent Rules Allowing Interconnected VoIP Providers and Others to Obtain Direct Access to Numbering Resources
In the NPRM, the FCC proposed to modify its rules to allow interconnected VoIP providers and other entities to obtain numbers directly from number administrators. The FCC is seeking comment on whether revising the relevant numbering assignment rules would enhance the effectiveness of number conservation efforts at the federal and state levels, reduce costs and inefficiencies resulting from the mandatory use of carrier-partners, encourage the development of innovative new technologies, and assist in transitioning to an all IP network. Additionally, the FCC is seeking comment on numerous topics including, but not limited to, the following:
The NOI Seeks Comment on Broader Implications of Disassociating Numbers with Geography
The NOI seeks comments on a broader range of numbering issues that result from ongoing transitions from fixed telephony to mobile services, from TDM to IP technologies, and from geographically-based number assignment to decoupling numbering assignment from discrete areas. The NOI generally asks whether numbers should remain geographically relevant. Among other things, the NOI requests comments on the following topics:
If you would like to discuss the issues raised by the NPRM, Order, or NOI or file comments, please do not hesitate to contact us:
Ron Del Sesto
If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:Lipman-Andrew