FCC Considers New International Traffic Reporting Requirements for VoIP Providers

Regulation Watch

FCC Considers New International Traffic Reporting Requirements for VoIP Providers

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

In 2011 the FCC (News - Alert) conducted a rulemaking proceeding under its “Data Innovation Initiative” aimed at reviewing and modernizing reporting requirements related to international telecommunications traffic. The commission sought comment on how to streamline its data reporting requirements in this area to ensure that it is collecting the data it needs, and only the data it needs, to carry out its statutory responsibilities. As part of that review, it sought comment on whether to impose new international traffic reporting requirements on certain types of VoIP providers. 

The commission appears prepared to move forward with its international traffic data collection reforms and to impose new reporting requirements on interconnected VoIP providers and one-way VoIP providers (when traffic touches the PSTN at either end). The FCC claims that a sizable percentage of international voice traffic is now handled by VoIP providers and as such the agency needs to obtain traffic data from VoIP providers in order to get an accurate picture of the United States’ international traffic. Under such a requirement, VoIP providers will be required to submit annual reports regarding: (1) international traffic and revenue; and (2) any international facilities they may control. In practice, VoIP providers that do not currently separate their traffic and revenues by jurisdiction (or domestic versus international) may need to begin doing so in order to comply with any international traffic reporting requirement the FCC may impose.

Since 2005 the FCC has applied a number of carrier-type requirements on VoIP providers. If approved, the new international reporting requirement will remove one of the last remaining significant distinctions between unlicensed VoIP providers and those traditional telecommunications providers authorized by the commission to provide international services pursuant to Section 214 of the Communications Act. 

William B. Wilhelm (News - Alert) is a partner and Jeffrey R. Strenkowski is counsel at the global law firm of Bingham McCutchen LLP (www.bingham.com).

Edited by Brooke Neuman