FCC says VoIP providers must offer number portability

* FCC ruling brings VoIP service providers one step closer to becoming full-fledged phone companies

Last week, the FCC issued a ruling that takes VoIP service providers one step closer to becoming (dare we say) full-fledged phone companies by requiring that the VoIP providers offer local number portability. The decision was adopted unanimously.

With the ruling, the FCC issued a statement that said by including VoIP providers in extending their mandate it “will further ensure consumers’ opportunity to choose a telephone service provider based on quality, price and service.” According to the FCC, their action “was, in part, a response to numerous complaints by consumers about their inability to port numbers to or from interconnected VoIP providers.”

FCC Chairman Martin said in his accompanying statement that “as interconnected VoIP providers have increasingly entered the market, it is important that consumers be able to transfer their number to and from these providers just like transfers between carriers.”

Along with the mandate, the FCC also said that VoIP providers “may not obstruct or delay number porting by demanding excess information from the customer’s new provider,” and it “tentatively concluded” that providers be able to port the users phone number within 48 hours of the customer’s request. The FCC order “also ensures that customers of small wireline carriers can port their telephone numbers to wireless carriers.”

The FCC action adds to the list of VoIP provider requirements that are similar in scope to traditional providers. Number portability for traditional carriers was mandated by the FCC in 2003, and the commission has also subsequently required VoIP providers to offer universal service, customer proprietary network information protections and disability access.

Editor's note: Starting the week of  Nov. 12, you will notice a number of enhancements to Network World newsletters that will provide you with more resources and more news links relevant to the newsletter's subject. The Convergence & VoIP Newsletter, written by analysts Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick, will be merged with the VoIP News Alert and will be newly named the Convergence & VoIP Alert. You'll get Steve and Larry's analysis of the convergence and VoIP market, which you will be able to read in full at NetworkWorld.com, plus links to the day's convergence news and other relevant resources. This Alert will be mailed on Mondays and Wednesdays. We hope you will enjoy the enhancements and we thank you for reading Network World newsletters.

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