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FCC Offers VoIP Service Providers E911 Extension
[August 26, 2005]

FCC Offers VoIP Service Providers E911 Extension

TMCnet Communications and Broadband Columnist
There is great news out of Washington today for VoIP service providers who faced the possibility of having to disconnect thousands of subscribers on Aug. 30. 
Indeed, the FCC has issued a public notice giving VoIP providers an additional 30 days - until Sept. 28 - to obtain notification from 100 percent of their subscribers acknowledging that they understand the possible problems they may face when dialing 9-1-1 emergency service.

The FCC made it clear in its notice how service providers should use the time extension.

"During this additional period of time, the Bureau expects that all interconnected VoIP providers that qualify for this extension will continue to use all means available to them to obtain affirmative acknowledgements from all of their subscribers," the notice said.
This is the second extension that the FCC has given VoIP providers to comply with the provisions of a June 3 order that ultimately requires service provides to make E9-1-1 service available to all subscribers by the end of November.
The E9-1-1 order originally set July 29 as the notification confirmation deadline.  However, with that deadline looming, the FCC gave VoIP providers a 30-day extension to Aug. 29.  According to the FCC, a provider that failed to obtain an acknowledgement was required to disconnect that subscriber's service on Aug. 30.
The first extension could be obtained only if a service provider filed by Aug. 10 a "Subscriber Notification and Acknowledgement Status and Compliance Report" that set forth the progress and projected success of the provider's compliance efforts. 
There are two catches, however, for those who want to take advantage of today's announced extension.  According to the FCC's notice, enforcement procedures will be delayed until Sept. 28 to those service providers that:
• Previously filed a report on or before Aug. 10 in accordance with the July 26 public notice; and
• File two separate updated reports with the FCC by Sept. 1 and Sept. 22.
In the Sept. 1 and Sept. 22 reports, each provider must provide the following information updating its Aug. 10 report:
• A detailed explanation regarding current compliance with the notice and warning sticker requirements if the provider did not notify and issue warning stickers to 100 percent of its subscribers by the July 29 deadline.
• The percentage of subscribers that have sent in acknowledgements as of the date of the reports.
• A description of the actions the provider plans to take to get additional subscriber acknowledgements.
• The service provider's plans on whether it will use a "soft" or "warm" disconnect procedure for those subscribers who do not confirm notification.  Such a procedure would discontinue all non-9-1-1 calls, but would permit 9-1-1 calls to continue to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point.
"I think it's a good thing to give it more time," said Al Brisard, Pingtel's vice president of marketing.  "Consumers are just being bombarded and no one really spends a lot of time to understand it.  I'm a little surprised by the government [for imposing an August 30 deadline].  I'm not surprised they extended the deadline because they really want the customers to understand what the deadline is.  Sometimes I fear, consumers don't read the message. When they accept, I think it's actually more dangerous."
TMCnet Executive Editor Robert Liu contributed to the reporting on this story.
Ted Glanzer is assistant editor for TMCnet. For more articles by Ted Glanzer, please visit:

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