NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR VOIP PROVIDERS TO OBTAIN DIRECT ACCESS TO TELEPHONE NUMBERS

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has issued an order that imposes additional requirements for interconnected VoIP providers to obtain access to telephone numbers from the North American Numbering Administrator.  These new requirements apply to providers applying in the future. In addition to the order, the FCC seeks comment on whether to apply these new requirements to providers that have already obtained numbers and to require all providers with numbering authority to collect similar information from entities to which they sell or lease numbers.  These requirements only apply to VoIP providers.  The order and further notice can be found here:  FCC-23-75A1.pdf

The additional requirements will take effect after approval by the Office of Management and Budget and the announcement of an effective date.  Comments on imposing requirements on existing number holders will be 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and reply comments 60 days after publication.

Requirements For New Applicants

Ownership Information  Applicants must provide the name, address, citizenship and principal businesses of any person or entity holding a 10 percent or more equity or voting interest in the company and the percentage of equity owned by each of those entities to the nearest one percent.  The FCC has specific rules and formulas for determining indirect interests and VoIP providers should consult with their counsel.  Providers must also inform the Commission and any state where it holds numbers, within 30 days, of any change in the ownership information reported.

Certifications. The order imposes a host of new certifications and evidentiary submissions to which a responsible officer must attest under penalty of perjury.  The certifications serve both a deterrence and educational function.  Note that these new certifications are in addition to certifications previously required.  The applicant must certify or provide evidence that:

  1. It will use numbering resources lawfully and will not knowingly transmit, encourage, assist or facilitate or encourage illegal robocalls, illegal spoofing or fraud.
  2. It has fully complied with all applicable STIR/SHAKEN and robocall mitigation requirements.
  3. That neither the applicant nor any of its key personnel are or have been subject to a FCC, law enforcement, or any regulatory agency investigation for failure to comply with any law, rule or order, including, but not limited to, the FCC’s robocall rules. (The applicant must inform the FCC if an investigation arises after it received numbering authority).
  4. It has complied with access stimulation rules.
  5. It is in compliance with Communications Assistance with Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and it must supply evidence of compliance with CALEA and the FCC’s 911 rules (including enterprise 911 rules).
  6. If applicable, it has filed Form 477 (extent of service offerings) and 499 (USF and related fees) and provide evidence of compliance.

Compliance with State Laws. The order clarifies that VoIP providers obtaining number authorization must comply with state numbering laws and with other general state requirements for businesses operating in the state. The FCC does not intend to expand state telecommunications regulation over VoIP providers, but to require VoIP providers to comply with laws applicable to any business in the state.

PROPOSED NEW RULES

The FCC also proposes further new rules on which it seeks public comment.

Extending the New Requirements to Existing Numbering Authorization Holders. The FCC proposes to extend to existing numbering authorization holders the new certifications and ownership disclosures described above.  If the FCC adopts this proposal VoIP providers that had previously obtained numbering authority would have 30 days to provide the additional information.

Collecting the Same Information When Reselling Numbers.  The FCC proposes to require both new applicants and existing holders of numbering authorization to collect from voice service providers to which they resell or lease telephone numbers the same certifications and ownership information described above.   The FCC also proposes to require VoIP providers to submit to the agency a list of all voice service providers to which they resell numbers and to update that list within 30 days of adding a new customer.

Collecting Information When Indirectly Receiving Numbers.  Finally, the Commission seeks comment on whether interconnected VoIP providers that receive telephone numbers from carriers should provide the same certifications and disclosures described above.

NEXT STEPS

VoIP providers contemplating filing applications for direct number access should be prepared to make the requisite certifications and ownership disclosures.  They should track the proceeding for the effective date of the new requirements to ensure their application is compliant.

VoIP providers that may have concerns regarding proposed new rules should consider filing comments or working with the CCA.  The proposals to collect certifications and detailed ownership information from prospective voice service provider customers for numbers appear potentially onerous and could place VoIP providers at a competitive disadvantage from carriers that do not have to collect such information.  Voice service providers seeking access to numbers may be unwilling to disclose their detailed ownership information or agree to continually updating such information.

Please contact the CCA regulatory committee through Mark Iannuzzi or Michael Pryor (mpryor@bhfs.com) if you have any questions.

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Cloud Communications Alliance

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