The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will now require operators of Internet-based phone services to comply with service outages reporting requirements that currently apply to wireline and wireless carriers.
The Commission uses service outages reports from telecommunications carriers to track and analyze problems that could affect 9-1-1 services and other emergency communications, and as the basis for making recommendations to prevent future outages. However, according to Commission data, almost one third of the country’s 87 million residential phone subscriptions are provided through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers, which have been exempt from the reporting requirements. The Commission says that the rule change will better ensure that consumers are able to make emergency calls, regardless of the telecommunications technology they use.
In a Report and Order issued in February 2012, the Commission defines outage reporting requirements for interconnected VoIP service, including reporting criteria and thresholds, and describes the reporting process and what information must be reported. The Commission also deferred taking action on setting specific thresholds for reporting outages, and defining outages based on performance degradation instead of complete service outages.