Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More VoIP Requirements - Section 225 + 255

According to FCC Martin's speech at Congress:

In addition, we recently extended the disability access requirements of sections 225 and 255 - which formerly only applied to traditional phone services - to providers of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Congress sought to ensure that all Americans, including people with disabilities, benefit from advances in technology. It is the Commission's responsibility to make this possible. [The order was posted on May 31, 2007].

GovTech explains Section 225:

In addition, the Commission said that interconnected VoIP providers were subject to the requirements of Section 225, including contributing to the Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) Fund and offering 711 abbreviated dialing for access to relay services. Requiring the TRS Fund contributions will protect the stability and sustainability of the Interstate TRS Fund. (TRS is a service that allows persons with hearing or speech impairments to use the telephone. The TRS Fund is used to pay for the provision of TRS services and is funded by contributions from all carriers that provide interstate service.) Requiring 711 abbreviated dialing will ensure that anyone wishing immediate access to the local TRS provider need only dial 711.

CyberTelecom blog from Robert Cannon has most of the detail here. The FCC's page on Section 255 is here.

Apparently, now VoIP is taxed as much as TDM. This is really funny because in the FCC's Vonage decision on June 1, the FCC ruled that Vonage and Inter-Connected VoIP Providers DO have to pay into USF. Yet the FCC "Deferring a decision on whether to classify VoIP as a telecommunications service or an information service, the Commission grounded its order in its permissive contribution authority and, alternatively, its Title I ancillary jurisdiction." Moreover, the FCC in 2003 ruled that Vonage was NOT subject to the rules of the Minnesota PUC. That seems contradictory.

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