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VoIP :: 911 :: Regulation Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY

47 CFR Part 9 (please consult primary source - the text below was copied for educational purposes and may be out of date)

Authority: 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i)-(j), 251(e), 303(r), and 615a-1 unless otherwise noted.

47 CFR § 9.1   Purpose.

The purposes of this part are to set forth the 911 and E911 service requirements and conditions applicable to interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol service providers, and to ensure that those providers have access to any and all 911 and E911 capabilities they need to comply with those 911 and E911 service requirements and conditions.

47 CFR 9.3 Definitions

47 CFR 9.5

E911 Service.

(a) Scope of Section. The following requirements are only applicable to providers of interconnected VoIP services. Further, the following requirements apply only to 911 calls placed by users whose Registered Location is in a geographic area served by a Wireline E911 Network (which, as defined in §9.3, includes a selective router).

(b) E911 Service. As of November 28, 2005:

(1) Interconnected VoIP service providers must, as a condition of providing service to a consumer, provide that consumer with E911 service as described in this section;

(2) Interconnected VoIP service providers must transmit all 911 calls, as well as ANI and the caller's Registered Location for each call, to the PSAP, designated statewide default answering point, or appropriate local emergency authority that serves the caller's Registered Location and that has been designated for telecommunications carriers pursuant to §64.3001 of this chapter, provided that "all 911 calls" is defined as "any voice communication initiated by an interconnected VoIP user dialing 911;"

(3) All 911 calls must be routed through the use of ANI and, if necessary, pseudo-ANI, via the dedicated Wireline E911 Network; and

(4) The Registered Location must be available to the appropriate PSAP, designated statewide default answering point, or appropriate local emergency authority from or through the appropriate automatic location information (ALI) database.

(c) Service Level Obligation. Notwithstanding the provisions in paragraph (b) of this section, if a PSAP, designated statewide default answering point, or appropriate local emergency authority is not capable of receiving and processing either ANI or location information, an interconnected VoIP service provider need not provide such ANI or location information; however, nothing in this paragraph affects the obligation under paragraph (b) of this section of an interconnected VoIP service provider to transmit via the Wireline E911 Network all 911 calls to the PSAP, designated statewide default answering point, or appropriate local emergency authority that serves the caller's Registered Location and that has been designated for telecommunications carriers pursuant to §64.3001 of this chapter.

(d) Registered Location Requirement. As of November 28, 2005, interconnected VoIP service providers must:

(1) Obtain from each customer, prior to the initiation of service, the physical location at which the service will first be utilized; and

(2) Provide their end users one or more methods of updating their Registered Location, including at least one option that requires use only of the CPE necessary to access the interconnected VoIP service. Any method utilized must allow an end user to update the Registered Location at will and in a timely manner.

(e) Customer Notification. Each interconnected VoIP service provider shall:

(1) Specifically advise every subscriber, both new and existing, prominently and in plain language, of the circumstances under which E911 service may not be available through the interconnected VoIP service or may be in some way limited by comparison to traditional E911 service. Such circumstances include, but are not limited to, relocation of the end user's IP-compatible CPE, use by the end user of a non-native telephone number, broadband connection failure, loss of electrical power, and delays that may occur in making a Registered Location available in or through the ALI database;

(2) Obtain and keep a record of affirmative acknowledgement by every subscriber, both new and existing, of having received and understood the advisory described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section; and

(3) Distribute to its existing subscribers warning stickers or other appropriate labels warning subscribers if E911 service may be limited or not available and instructing the subscriber to place them on or near the equipment used in conjunction with the interconnected VoIP service. Each interconnected VoIP provider shall distribute such warning stickers or other appropriate labels to each new subscriber prior to the initiation of that subscriber's service.

(f) Compliance Letter. All interconnected VoIP providers must submit a letter to the Commission detailing their compliance with this section no later than November 28, 2005.

§ 9.7 Access to 911 and E911 Service Capabilities .  

(a) Access . Subject to the other requirements of this part, an owner or controller of a capability that can be used for 911 or E911 service shall make that capability available to a requesting interconnected VoIP provider as set forth in paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) of this section.  

(1) If the owner or controller makes the requested capability available to a CMRS provider, the owner or controller must make that capability available to the interconnected VoIP provider. An owner or controller makes a capability available to a CMRS provider if the owner or controller offers that capability to any CMRS provider.  

(2) If the owner of controller does not make the requested capability available to a CMRS provider within the meaning of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the owner or controller must make that capability available to a requesting interconnected VoIP provider only if that capability is necessary to enable the interconnected VoIP provider to provide 911 or E911 service in compliance with the Commission's rules.  

(b) Rates, Terms, and Conditions . The rates, terms, and conditions on which a capability is provided to an interconnected VoIP provider under paragraph (a) of this section shall be reasonable. For purposes of this paragraph, it is evidence that rates, terms, and conditions are reasonable if they are: (1) the same as the rates, terms, and conditions that are made available to CMRS providers, or (2) in the event such capability is not made available to CMRS providers, the same rates, terms, and conditions that are made available to any telecommunications carrier or other entity for the provision of 911 or E911 service.  

(c) Permissible Use . An interconnected VoIP provider that obtains access to a capability pursuant to this section may use that capability only for the purpose of providing 911 or E911 service in accordance with the Commission's rules.


E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers Docket No. 05-196 07-114 11-117

1. In this Third Report and Order, Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we enhance the public's ability to contact emergency services personnel during times of crisis and enable public safety personnel to obtain accurate information regarding the location of the caller . In the Report and Order, we continue to strengthen our existing Enhanced 911 (E911) location accuracy regime for wireless carriers by retaining the existing handset-based and network-based location accuracy standards and the eight-year implementation period established in our September 2010 E911 Location Accuracy Second Report and Order but providing for phasing out the network-based standard over time. We also require new Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) networks to comply with the handset-based location criteria, regardless of the location technology they actually use. In addition, we will require wireless carriers to periodically test their outdoor E911 location accuracy results and to share the results with Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), state 911 offices, and the Commission, subject to confidentiality safeguards.

2. In the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we propose measures to improve911 availability and location determination for users of interconnected Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP) services . First, we consider whether to apply our 911 rules to "outbound-only" interconnected VoIP services, i.e., services that support outbound calls to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) but not inbound voice calling from the PSTN. These services, which allow consumers to place IP-based outbound calls to any telephone number, have grown increasingly popular in recent years. We ask whether such services are likely to generate consumer expectations that they will support 911 calling and consider whether to extend to outbound-only interconnected VoIP service providers the same 911 requirements that have applied to other interconnected VoIP service providers since 2005.

3. We also seek comment on whether we should develop a framework for ensuring that all covered VoIP service providers can provide automatic location information (ALI) for VoIP 911 calls. Currently, interconnected VoIP customers must provide their location information manually by registering the physical location of their phones with their VoIP service providers. While there are benefits to this Registered Location approach, in light of the increasing popularity of VoIP calling, the enhanced mobility of VoIP devices, and the evolution of consumer expectations, we consider how we might continue working towards automatic location solutions for VoIP calls to 911. We do not propose specific automatic location accuracy requirements for VoIP at this time but instead seek comment on whether we should adopt general governing principles for the development of automatic location identification solutions. To ensure that ALI can be generated and transmitted in the most technologically efficient and cost-effective manner, we anticipate that some of these solutions will require participation by both "over the top" VoIP service providers that offer service directly to customers and broadband providers that provide underlying network connectivity for VoIP calls. General governing principles might apply to both types of providers but could also afford flexibility to VoIP service providers and broadband providers to develop alternative solutions appropriate to specific VoIP 911 scenarios.

  4. We seek comment on an array of issues associated with extending 911 calling and location accuracy requirements to broadband-based voice services other than interconnected and outbound-only interconnected VoIP services. We request comment on whether we should seek to support 911 location determination through leveraging of location technologies that are already being developed for commercial broadband applications. We also seek comment on the possibility of developing operational benchmarks based on location accuracy performance to enhance consumer decision-making with respect to device capabilities. In addition, we seek comment on technological approaches to improve location accuracy for 911 communications originating from indoor environments. Finally, in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we seek comment on whether our proposal to amend the definition of interconnected VoIP service for 911 purposes has any impact on our interpretation of certain statutes that reference the FCC's existing definition of interconnected VoIP service .

AMENDING THE DEFINITION OF INTERCONNECTED VOIP SERVICE IN SECTION 9.3 OF THE COMMISSION'S RULES; WIRELESS E911 LOCATION ACCURACY REQUIREMENTS; E911 REQUIREMENTS FOR IP-ENABLED SERVICE PROVIDERS. FCC Strengthens Enhanced 911 Location Accuracy Requirements For Wireless Services. Seeks Comment on Improved 911 Availability and E911 Location Determination For VoIP. by 3RD R&O AND 2ND FNPRM. (Dkt No. 05-196 07-114 11-117 ). Action by: the Commission. Adopted: 07/12/2011 by NPRM. (FCC No. 11-107). PSHSB    FCC-11-107A1.doc FCC-11-107A2.doc FCC-11-107A3.doc FCC-11-107A4.doc FCC-11-107A5.doc FCC-11-107A1.pdf FCC-11-107A2.pdf FCC-11-107A3.pdf FCC-11-107A4.pdf FCC-11-107A5.pdf FCC-11-107A1.txt FCC-11-107A2.txt FCC-11-107A3.txt FCC-11-107A4.txt FCC-11-107A5.txt

Implementation of the NET 911 Improvement Act of 2008 WC Docket No. 08-171

In re Implementation of the NET 911 Improvement Act of 2008 , Report and Order, WC Docket No. 08-171, (FCC October 21, 2008)

[1] In this Order , we adopt rules implementing certain key provisions of the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 (NET 911 Act), which was enacted on July 23, 2008. Specifically, we issue rules that give interconnected VoIP providers rights of access to any and all capabilities necessary to provide 911 and E911 service from entities that own or control those capabilities. We also take steps to ensure that the nation's E911 network remains secure as an expanded number of entities are granted rights to access this system.

[3] The NET 911 Act

  • imposes on interconnected VoIP providers the obligation to provide 911 and E911 service in accordance with Commission existing requirements .
  • grants interconnected VoIP providers rights with respect to "capabilities" to provide 911 and E911 services.
  • [12] Interconnected VoIP service may enable customers to place calls from various geographic locations which may necessitate the use of p-ANI for routing 911 calls. Furthermore, given the state of current technology to determine automatically the location from which an interconnected VoIP call is made, the Commission required providers of interconnected VoIP services to obtain location information, called "Registered Location," from their customers.

    [13] Under the Commission's rules, interconnected VoIP providers must forward all 911 calls made over their interconnected VoIP service, as well as a call back number and the caller's Registered Location for each call, to the appropriate PSAP. These calls must be routed through the use of ANI and, if necessary, and similar to wireless carriers, p-ANI, via the dedicated Wireline E911 Network, and the caller's Registered Location must be available from or through the ALI Database. Interconnected VoIP providers may comply with the Commission's rules by interconnecting indirectly through a third party such as a competitive LEC, interconnecting directly with the Wireline E911 Network, or through any other solution that allows the provider to offer E911 service.

    [24] we issue rules to grant interconnected VoIP providers a right of access to the capabilities CMRS providers use to provide E911 service equal to the access rights made available to CMRS providers.

    [25] Second, with respect to any capabilities that are not provided to CMRS providers, interconnected VoIP providers [can] access if the capability is necessary for the interconnected VoIP provider to provide E911 service.

    [27] Typical Capabilities. . . "capabilities" will include: the Selective Router; the trunk line(s) between the Selective Router and the PSAP(s); the ALI Database; the SR Database; the DBMS, the MSAG; p-ANIs; ESNs; mobile switching center capabilities; mobile positioning center capabilities; shell records; the data circuits connecting these elements; and the network elements, features, processes, and agreements necessary t o enable the use of these elements.

    [28] Entities with Ownership or Control of Capabilities . interconnected VoIP providers are entitled to access to capabilities from any entity that owns or controls such capabilities. . . . impose obligations of access on each of the entities described in part II .D of this Order, including in typical E911 architectures: incumbent LECs, PSAPs and local authorities, VPCs, CMRS providers, competitive carriers, and the Interim RNA to the extent any of these entities has "ownership or control" over any capabilities to which interconnected VoIP providers have a right of access.

    [33] In addition, if an owner or controller of a capability does not provide a capability to CMRS providers but is required under part III. A above to grant interconnected VoIP providers access to such capability, such access must be provided on the rates, terms, and conditions that would be offered to a CMRS provider.

    [34] If an owner or controller of a capability required to be made available does not currently make that capability available to any other entities, the rates, terms and conditions under which that owner or controller must provide access to a requesting interconnected VoIP provider must be reasonable, and should be reached through commercial negotiation. . . . Finally, we emphasize that all rights to capabilities that the NET 911 Act grants to an interconnected VoIP provider are "for the exclusive purpose of complying with . . . its obligations under subsection (a) [ i.e. the Commission's existing E911 rules]."

    [37] NENA has developed national VoIP E911 requirements, referred to as NENA's i2 standard , that are "designed to ensure that VoIP 9-1-1 calls are routed and presented in a wireline equivalent manner." any interconnected VoIP provider that is in compliance with this standard already is coordinating its efforts with the other organizational entities responsible for providing E911 service.

    [38] interconnected VoIP providers must comply with all applicable industry network security standards to the same extent as traditional telecommunications carriers when they access capabilities traditionally used by carriers.

    [39] incumbent LECs and other owners or controllers of 91 1 or E911 infrastructure will acquire information regarding interconnected VoIP providers and their customers for use in the provision of emergency services. These entities are to use this information only for the provision of E911 service. To be clear, no entity may use customer information obtained as a result of the provision of 911 or E911 services for marketing purposes. [NOTE: This is similar to the original CPNI rules ]

    IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NET 911 IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2008.   Adopted rules implementing certain key provisions of the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 (NET 911 Act). (Dkt No.  08-171). Action by: the Commission. Adopted:  10/21/2008 by R&O. (FCC No. 08-249).  WCB
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    8/25/08 FCC Seeks Comment on Implementation of NET 911 Improvement Act.
    NPRM: Word | Acrobat
    Martin Statement: Word | Acrobat
    Copps Statement: Word | Acrobat
    Adelstein Statement: Word | Acrobat
    Tate Statement: Word | Acrobat
    McDowell Statement: Word | Acrobat

    COMMENT AND REPLY COMMENT DATES ESTABLISHED FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NET 911 ACT NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING. (DA No. 08-2018). (Dkt No 08-171). Comments Due: 09/09/2009. Reply Comments Due: 09/17/2009, FCC 9/2/2008

    Enhanced 911 (E911) Location Accuracy And Reliability Requirements WC Docket No. 05-196

    Federal Communications Commission today adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on tentative conclusions and issues related to Enhanced 911 (E911) location accuracy and reliability requirements for wireless carriers and providers of interconnected voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

    The NPRM seeks to ensure that E911 service meets the needs of public safety and the American people. The NPRM also takes into consideration the evolution in the use of wireless devices and the further development of location technologies. The primary objective is to advance policies, rules and initiatives that support the efficient and reliable transmission of meaningful automatic location information for wireless cell phone users and users of interconnected VoIP service to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to better ensure rapid emergency response and save lives.

    The Commission tentatively concluded that, as proposed by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials-International, Inc. (APCO), wireless carriers would be required to meet Phase II location accuracy and reliability standards under Section 20.18(h) at the service area level of PSAPs. The Commission also seeks comment on whether to defer enforcement of Section 20.18(h) to allow time for wireless carriers to come into compliance with this standard, as well as the other questions regarding enforcing any rule that may be adopted on the geographic area for compliance.

    In addition to proposing to clarify the geographic area over which carriers must satisfy the E911 Phase II accuracy requirements, the Commission also seeks comment on other tentative conclusions, on whether:

  • A single, technology-neutral location accuracy requirement for wireless E911 service should be used, rather than the separate accuracy requirements for network-based and handset-based location technologies that are currently in place;
  • Wireless carriers should comply with a mandatory schedule for accuracy testing and automatically provide accuracy data to PSAPs; and
  • Providers of interconnected VoIP services that can be used at more than one location must employ an automatic location technology that meets the same accuracy standards which apply to providers of commercial mobile radio services (CMRS).
  • Finally, the Commission found that there are at least two areas that warrant additional evaluation by Commission engineers and staff: (1) methods for carriers to improve in-building location accuracy; and (2) the use of hybrid technology solutions to increase location accuracy and address shortcomings of current technologies. The Commission noted its intent to examine and publicly report on both issues as quickly and efficiently as possible, so as not to unduly delay the issuance of a final order.

    6/1/07 FCC Adopts Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Seeking Comment on Enhanced 911 Location Accuracy and Reliability Requirements for Wireless Carriers and Interconnected VOIP Providers.
    NPRM: Word | Acrobat
    News Release (5/31/07): Word | Acrobat
    Martin Statement: Word | Acrobat
    Copps Statement: Word | Acrobat
    Adelstein Statement: Word | Acrobat
    Tate Statement: Word | Acrobat
    McDowell Statement: Word | Acrobat

  • FCC Moves To Improve 911 On Cell, Internet Phones, CBS 6/1/2007
  • FCC Adopts NPRM re e911 for Wireless and VoIP, FCC 6/1/2007
  • Interconnected VoIP Providers to Provide Enhanced 911 Service Docket 04-36, 05-196

    IP-Enabled Services; E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers, WC Docket Nos. 04-36, 05-196, First Report and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 20 FCC Rcd 10245 (2005) (VoIP 911 Order), aff’d sub nom. Nuvio Corp. v. FCC, 473 F.3d 302 (D.C. Cir. 2006)

    Derived from Press Release: The Federal Communications Commission today took steps to protect consumers by requiring that certain providers of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone service supply enhanced 911 (E911) emergency calling capabilities to their customers as a mandatory feature of the service.

    The IP-enabled services marketplace is the latest new frontier of our nation’s communications landscape, and the Commission is committed to allowing IP-enabled services to evolve without undue regulation. But E911 service is critical to our nation’s ability to respond to a host of crises. The Commission hopes to minimize the likelihood of situations like recent incidents in which users of interconnected VoIP dialed 911 but were not able to reach emergency operators. Today’s Order represents a balanced approach that takes into consideration the expectations of consumers, the need to strengthen Americans’ ability to access public safety in times of crisis, and the needs of entities offering these innovative services.

    The Order places obligations on two way interconnected VoIP service providers that are similar to traditional telephone providers in that they enable customers to receive calls from and terminate calls to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) (Vonage notes that this does not cover some VoIP service providers that advertise themselves as replacement telephone services but may not fit within the definition of "two way interconnected VoIP service providers"). It does not place obligations on other IP-based service providers, such as those that provide instant messaging or Internet gaming services, because although these services may contain a voice component, customers of these services cannot receive calls from and place calls to the PSTN. The Order adopted today reaches the following conclusions:

  • Interconnected VoIP providers must deliver all 911 calls to the customer’s local emergency operator. This must be a standard, rather than optional, feature of the service.
  • Interconnected VoIP providers must provide emergency operators with the call back number and location information of their customers (i.e., E911) where the emergency operator is capable of receiving it. Although the customer must provide the location information, the VoIP provider must provide the customer a means of updating this information, whether he or she is at home or away from home.
  • By the effective date, interconnected VoIP providers must inform their customers, both new and existing, of the E911 capabilities and limitations of their service.
  • The incumbent LECs are required to provide access to their E911 networks to any requesting telecommunications carrier. They must continue to provide access to trunks, selective routers, and E911 databases to competing carriers. The Commission will closely monitor this obligation.
  • Interconnected VoIP providers must comply with these requirements, and submit to the Commission a letter detailing such compliance, no later than 120 days after the effective date of the Order.

    [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking]: Finally, the Commission stated its intention to adopt, in a future order, an advanced E911 solution that includes a method for determining the customer’s location without the customer having to self report this information.

  • FCC Announces Joint Federal/State VOIP Enhanced 911 Enforcement Task Force., FCC 7/26/2005
  • Compliance Letters


    IP Enabled Services Proceeding


    53. Against this backdrop, we seek comment in this proceeding on the potential applicability of 911, E911, and related critical infrastructure regulation to VoIP and other IP enabled services. As an initial matter, we have previously found in the E911 Scope Order that the Commission has statutory authority under Sections 1, 4(i), and 251(e)(3) of the Act to determine what entities should be subject to the Commission’s 911 and E911 rules. 162 However, in deciding whether to exercise our regulatory authority in the context of IP-enabled services, we are mindful that development and deployment of these services is in its early stages, that these services are fast-changing and likely to evolve in ways that we cannot anticipate, and that imposition of regulatory mandates, particularly those that impose technical mandates, should be undertaken with caution. How should we weigh the potential public benefits of requiring emergency calling and other public safety capabilities against the risk that regulation could slow technical and market development? We seek comment on whether the natural evolution of IP enabled services over the course of the next few years will lead to technological improvements and cost savings in the transmittal of and response to emergency information, interoperability among public safety entities, and other elements of critical infrastructure needed to provide for public safety and homeland security in accordance with the Commission’s statutory obligations and regulatory objectives. We recognize, too, that IP-enabled services may enhance the capabilities of PSAPs and first responders – and thus promote public safety – by providing information that cannot be conveyed by non-IP-enabled systems. Therefore, before we make any decision with respect to regulation, it is important that we develop a fuller understanding of the ways in which IP-enabled services or IP protocols can facilitate 911, E911, and critical infrastructure deployment and reduce attendant costs, both currently and in the future. We next ask commenters to address the technical and operational capabilities of current VoIP and other IP-enabled services to work with 911 service. We seek comment on whether IP-enabled services are technically and operationally capable of complying with the Commission’s basic 911 service rules to ensure that calls are directed to the appropriate PSAP. 163 In particular, we seek comment on issues relating to the routing of IP-initiated 911 calls to PSAPs, and the potential for IPenabled services to provide a viable and cost-effective alternative to the dedicated 911-trunking facilities in use today. Are there multiple technical methods by which VoIP providers could route calls? We also seek comment on ways in which current IP-enabled service providers seek to provide a similar service to their customers.

    54. We also seek comment on whether VoIP and other IP-enabled services are technologically and operationally capable of delivering call-back and location information, enhanced 911 service, or to provide analogous functionalities that would meet the intent of the 911 Act and the Commission’s regulations. We seek comment on whether there are multiple technical methods by which VoIP providers could provide call-back and location information? Are minimal technical requirements necessary, and what solutions can potentially provide them most effectively and efficiently? We note that the Hatfield Report , 164 which we commissioned in 2002 to provide an independent analysis of technical issues associated with the implementation of enhanced 911 services, examined IP technology as a potential solution to such issues. Moreover, some vendors of VoIP equipment claim to have resolved the technical problems associated with transmitting location and call-back to the appropriate PSAP through software upgrades. 165 To the extent that there is data on whether these software solutions meet or provide some functionality useful in meeting the Commission’s E911 requirements, we request commenters to provide such data. In addition to considering software-based solutions, are there other location solutions that equipment manufacturers could provide to enable a PSAP to identify the location of an IP-based 911 “caller”? Should the Commission distinguish between classes of IP-enabled service providers based on the method by which they provide these capabilities?

    IP Enabled Services Proceeding Page ¶¶ 51-57


    CC Docket No. 94-102 
    Released:  December 20, 2002
    Comments Due: 2/3/03. 
    Reply's Due:  2/28/03
    Revision of the Commission’s Rules to Ensure Compatibility With Enhanced 911 Emergency Calling Systems Express Your Views!  Comments can be filed with the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System.  FAQ: How to participate in FCC Proceedings.

    "113. 113. We also seek comment on other new technological platforms.  For example, services such as IP Telephony are not widely deployed, but may ultimately be relevant to our E911 policies.  The Commission recently received an independent report prepared by Dale Hatfield on various technical issues related to the deployment of E911.   As part of that report, Dr. Hatfield identifies potential technical issues that may arise with voice delivered using the Internet Protocol (VoIP) communicating the necessary call-back and location information to PSAPs.  We seek comment on the extent to which significant issues exist with regard to the access to 911 and E911 capabilities by consumers using newly developing communications platforms such as IP Telephony, and what, if any, role the Commission should take regarding any such issues.   In this regard, we appreciate the many benefits that new technologies bring to the public in terms of increased access and opportunities for all Americans.  Our regulatory policies are designed to continue to encourage the development of these capabilities, while also enhancing public safety."

    10/21/2003 ORDER (FCC 03-247) Revision of the Commission's Rules to Enhance Compatibility with Enhanced 911 Emergency Calling Systems; Petitions for Reconsideration of Phase II Waivers and Compliance Plans of Cingular Wireless, Nextel, and Verizon Wireless; Petitions for Reconsideration 
    pdf - Word

    Further Notice Proposed Rulemaking FCC E911

    FCC WCB E911 Coordination Initiative

    42. As discussed above, we preempt the Minnesota Vonage Order because it imposes entry and other requirements on Vonage that impermissibly interfere with this Commission’s valid exercise of authority. As Vonage indicates in its Petition, Minnesota includes as one of its entry conditions the approval of a 911 service plan “comparable to the provision of 911 service by the [incumbent] local exchange carrier.” 145 In the Minnesota Vonage Order, the Minnesota Commission specifically subjected Vonage to this requirement. 146 Because Minnesota inextricably links pre-approval of a 911 plan to becoming certificated to offer service in the state, the application of its 911 requirements operates as an entry regulation. Vonage explains that there is no practicable way for it to comply with this requirement: it cannot today identify with sufficient accuracy the geographic location of a caller, and it has not obtained access in all cases to incumbent LEC E911 trunks that carry calls to specialized operators at public safety answering points (PSAPs). 147 Under the Minnesota “telephone company” rules, therefore, this requirement bars Vonage from entry in Minnesota . To that extent, this requirement is preempted along with all other entry requirements contained in Minnesota ’s “telephone company” regulations as applied to DigitalVoice. 148 Although we preempt Minnesota from imposing its 911 requirements on Vonage as a condition of entry, this does not mean that Vonage should cease the efforts it has undertaken to date and we understand is continuing to take both to develop a workable public safety solution for its DigitalVoice service and to offer its customers equivalent access to emergency services.

    43. There is no question that innovative services like DigitalVoice are having a profound and beneficial impact on American consumers.149 While we do not agree with unnecessary economic regulation of DigitalVoice designed for different services, we do believe that important social policy issues surrounding services like DigitalVoice should be considered and resolved.150 Access to emergency services, a critically important public safety matter, is one of these important social policy issues. In this proceeding, Vonage has indicated that it is devoting substantial resources toward the development of standards and technology necessary to facilitate some type of 911 service, working cooperatively with Minnesota agencies and other state commissions, public safety officials and PSAPs, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).151 Moreover, it has demonstrated that it is offering its version of 911 capability to all its customers, including those in Minnesota, and has provided us information indicating what actions its customers must take to activate this 911 capability.152 We are also aware that Vonage recently announced the successful completion of an E911 trial in Rhode Island, a state that has not, to our knowledge, attempted to regulate DigitalVoice. In collaboration with the State of Rhode Island, Vonage has developed a technical solution to deliver a caller’s location and call back number to emergency service personnel for 911 calls placed in that state by DigitalVoice users.153 We fully expect Vonage to continue its 911 development efforts and to continue to offer some type of public safety capability during the pendency of our IP-Enabled Services Proceeding.154

    44. We emphasize that while we have decided the jurisdictional question for Vonage’s DigitalVoice here, we have yet to determine final rules for the variety of issues discussed in the IP-Enabled Services Proceeding. While we intend to address the 911 issue as soon as possible, perhaps even separately, we anticipate addressing other critical issues such as universal service, intercarrier compensation, section 251 rights and obligations,155 numbering, disability access, and consumer protection in that proceeding. 156

    45. Furthermore, we acknowledge that a U.S. District Court in New York has recently ordered Vonage “to continue to provide the same emergency 911 calling services currently available to Vonage customers” within that state157 and to “make reasonable good faith efforts to participate on a voluntary basis” in workshops pertaining to the development of VoIP 911 calling capabilities.158 Because DigitalVoice is a national service for which Vonage cannot single out New York “intrastate” calls (any more than it can Minnesota “intrastate” calls), as a practical matter, the District Court’s order reaches DigitalVoice wherever it is used.159 Thus, we need not be concerned that as a result of our action today, Vonage will cease its efforts to continue developing and offering a public safety capability in Minnesota. The District Court order ensures that these efforts must continue while we work cooperatively with our state colleagues and industry to determine how best to address 911/E911-type capabilities for IP-enabled services in a comprehensive manner in the context of our IP-Enabled Services Proceeding.160

    145See Vonage Petition at 25 (citing Minn. Rule § 7812.0550 subp. 1).

    146See Minnesota Vonage Order at 8.

    147See Vonage Petition at 8-9, 24-25.

    148See supra paras. 20- 22 (explaining preemption of entry requirements). Indeed, Vonage notes in its petition that “[I]f the Commission preempts Minnesota’s certificate requirement . . . this issue [911 comparability to an incumbent LEC] will be moot.” See Vonage Petition at 25. Similarly, to the extent the Minnesota Commission demands payment of 911 fees as a condition of entry, that requirement is preempted.

    149See VON Coalition Aug. 19 Ex Parte Letter at 4.

    150 As explained above, these issues are currently being considered in pending proceedings before this Commission. See supra note 46. See also, e.g., Minnesota Commission Comments at 4; Surewest Comments at 12; Texas 911 Agencies Comments at 2-3 (urging the Commission to consider public safety issues related to VoIP services).

    151 See NENA Reply at 1-2; Vonage Aug. 13 Ex Parte Letter at 1-2; Minnesota Statewide 911 Program Comments at 4.

    152 In offering its “911” capability to its customers, Vonage has provided the Commission information regarding how and what it tells its customers about its limited 911 capabilities such that its customers are fully aware of those limitations when they subscribe to the service and clearly understand that it is not a comparable emergency service to the 911 capability they obtain with local exchange service. We fully expect Vonage to continue providing customers information such as this about its “911” capability. See Vonage Oct. 1 Ex Parte Letter at 3-4 & Exhibit 10.

    153 See Letter from William B. Wilhelm, Jr. and Ronald W. Del Sesto, Jr., Counsel for Vonage, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket Nos. 03-211, 04-36, at 1 (filed Oct. 14, 2004).

    154 We look beyond Vonage’s efforts of today, however, toward work that remains to be done in the area of 911 and the opportunities that this new technology presents for public safety. To that end, we are aware of the six principles NENA has advanced: (1) establish a national E911 VoIP policy; (2) encourage vendor and technology neutral solutions and innovation; (3) retain consumer service quality expectations; (4) support dynamic, flexible, open architecture system design process for 911; (5) develop policies for 911 compatible with the commercial environment for IP communications; and (6) promote a fully funded 911 system. See National Emergency Number Association, E9-1-1, Internet Protocol & Emergency Communications, Press Release ( Mar. 22, 2004). We applaud NENA’s vision in establishing these principles to support a process to “promote a fully functional 9-1-1 system that responds any time, anywhere from every device.” See id.. We endorse these principles because they provide a sound blueprint for the development of a national 911 solution for VoIP services and we encourage all VoIP providers and industry participants to work toward their realization.

    155 We note that nothing in this Order addressing the Commission’s jurisdictional determination of or regulatory treatment of particular retail IP-enabled services impacts competitive LEC access to the underlying facilities on which such retail services ride. See Letter from Jason D. Oxman, General Counsel, Association for Local Telecommunications Services, to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket Nos. 04-29, 04-36 (filed Nov. 2, 2004).

    156 See supra note 46.

    157 See New York Preliminary Injunction at 3. We note that Vonage’s “emergency 911 calling service” is not a service that is provided pursuant to the New York Commission’s rules or any other state commission’s rules. This is a service Vonage has voluntarily undertaken in response to consumer demand.

    158 See New York Preliminary Injunction at 4.

    159 We recognize that Vonage’s 911 capability relies on the cooperation of its customers in accurately registering and re-registering their user location when they move about with the service.

    160 See IP-Enabled Services Proceeding, 19 FCC Rcd at 4897-901, paras. 51-57.

    Vonage Holdings Corporation Petition for Declaratory Ruling Concerning an Order of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, WC Docket No. 03-211, Memorandum Opinion and Order (FCC Nov. 12, 2004)

    Impact of IP Telephony on Public Safety: In California, years of state funded improvements have been made to 911 service to enable telecommunications providers and first responders to ensure the safety of California customers. In addition, law enforcement utilizes its right under federal law to monitor telecommunications services to combat criminal activity. Exempting VoIP providers from regulation raises concerns about public safety and law enforcement activities in local communities. On the other hand, VoIP technologies offer the possibility to provide more detailed emergency information about some user locations, e.g. PBX users, than available with current technology.
    -- Order instituting investigation on the Commission's own motion to determine the extent to which the public utility telephone service known as Voice over Internet Protocol should be exempted from regulatory requirements, CA PUC February 11, 2004

    10. One final word on this subject: now that this commission has backed off on regulating VoIP - at least until the FCC acts - VoIP providers should seek free market solutions to intercarrier compensation and 911 service issues.  When a VoIP call touches the Publicly Switched Telephone Network, there should be compensation to the network owner - at a rate agreed to by willing market participants.  Resolving the 911-service issue is even more important.  VoIP providers should not have to worry that agreeing to contract with a Basic Emergency Service Provider (in Colorado, Qwest) to offer customary 911 services will somehow suck it into regulation, at least in this state.  I strongly encourage VoIP providers to work out 911-service and intercarrier compensation agreements, to show that they are good corporate citizens.  And to show that traditional regulation is not necessary.
    --In The Matter Of The Investigation Into Voice Over Internet Protocol (Voip) Services, Docket No. 03M-220T, Order Closing Docket ¶ 8 ( Colorado PUC Dec. 17, 2003) (Chairman Gregory E. Sopkin Specially Concurring)

    In order to formulate an informed, consistent regulatory policy, the Commission would like to obtain information about VOIP activity in Michigan . The Commission, therefore, requests comments on VOIP activity in Michigan on the following topics that may be affected by both state and federal law:
    . . .
    d. Access to emergency calling, including VOIP end users' unrestricted access to 9-1-1 , non-carrier charges for 9-1-1 access, and public safety answering points costs to geographically locate VOIP callers and provide a call back number.
    . . .
    g. The ability of VOIP services to provide abbreviated dialing (2-1-1, 3-1-1, 4-1-1, 7-1-1) programs and toll-free dialing (1+800) to end users.
    -- -- U-14073 - Commission's Own Motion (investigation of VOIP) - (MI PUC 3/16/2004 ) HTML | PDF

    Should VoIP subscribers pay state and local emergency 911/E-911 surcharges since they make use of emergency response services.... Can VoIP providers provide subscribers with E911/911emergency service that is equivalent to that provided by traditional local exchange carriers? If not, what level of E911/911 emergency service is adequate to protect the health and safety of VoIP subscribers and others 22 who may use their telephones in an emergency?
    -- In Re Vonage Holding Company Petition for a Declaratory Ruling Concerning the Order of the Minnesota PUC, WC Docket No. 03-211, Comments of the NY AG (Nov. 21, 2003)