Extension For E911 ‘Not as Good’ Rule

Voice over IP providers have another 30 days to inform customers of possible E911 emergency calling limitations — or pull the plug on their service.

After Aug. 30, VoIP providers will have to cut off subscribers who refuse to acknowledge the warning, according to the ruling by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The original deadline was Friday, July 29th.

According to the FCC’s order: “If an interconnected VoIP provider has not received subscriber acknowledgements from 100 percent of its existing subscribers [by Aug. 29], then the…VoIP provider will disconnect…all subscribers from whom it has not received such acknowledgement.”

In addition, the FCC ordered providers to distribute labels warning subscribers about possible VoIP limitations. Subscribers are expected to place the stickers on or near VoIP equipment interconnected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

Tuesday’s order and extension follows a Monday directive from the FCC creating a joint task force for VoIP E911 enforcement. Staff from both the FCC and state public utility commissions will serve as members of the panel.

The FCC said the task force will look at developing educational materials to ensure consumers understand their rights and the requirements of the VoIP E911 rules. The task force will also compile data and share best practices.

“One of the FCC’s core missions is to promote public safety. Our VoIP E911 rules are critical to achieving that goal,” FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement.

VoIP providers are already under FCC order to provide E911 services for all subscribers by the end of November. The notification rule means VoIP providers must notify and receive acknowledge from all subscribers that their 911 services might not parallel traditional landline 911 services.

In order to qualify for the 30-day extension, VoIP providers must file a compliance report with the FCC by Aug. 10. According to the FCC, the report must describe “all actions the provider has taken to specifically advise every subscriber, prominently and in plain language, of the circumstances under which E911 service may not be available.”

The order also requires a quantification of how many subscribers have submitted an affirmative acknowledge and an estimate of the percentage of subscribers providers do not expect to return an acknowledgement.

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