Regulators Give Some VOIP Operators More Time

Thousands of VOIP subscribers won't have their service disrupted when new emergency dialing rules go into effect.

Federal regulators on Tuesday gave some Internet telephone operators a quasi-reprieve and others a few more weeks time to meet new emergency dialing requirements.

The rules set to take effect Wednesday, but no longer, impact operators doling out VOIP (voice over IP), a burgeoning new industry for dispensing the software and hardware to turn Internet connections into inexpensive home phone lines.

As part of a growing crackdown on the VOIP industry, the Federal Communications Commission now requires operators warn customers that their 911 service is unreliable.

The operators have to disconnect the service altogether, or allow only 911 calls from those customers who havent acknowledged the warnings.

In a public notice Tuesday, the FCC said it will hold off enforcement of the rules until Oct. 31 if VOIP operators have acknowledgements from less than 90 percent of their customers.

These operators are expected to update the FCC on their progress on Oct. 25.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about VOIP service providers informing their customers that they do not offer enhanced 911.

An FCC spokesperson did not know what percentage of all U.S. VOIP operators this represents.

The FCC has also decided not to punish VOIP operators that have received notifications from 90 percent or more of subscribers.

These operators arent exempt, however, and are expected to reach 100 percent in the near future.

The latest deadline averts a potential shutdown of service to thousands of Internet phone subscribers that would have begun Wednesday, when the FCC rules concerning 911 dialing were set to take effect.

Overall, the FCC appears satisfied with the percentage of VOIP operators that have complied, and with the efforts of the dwindling number of service providers still struggling with the new requirement.

At least 21 VOIP operators got acknowledgement from all subscribers, and at least 32 from 90 percent or more, according to Tuesdays FCC public notice.

"After considering the reports detailing their compliance with the Commissions notification requirements, it is evident that many providers have devoted significant resources to notifying each of their subscribers," the FCC wrote.

"In recognition of these substantial efforts and the very high percentage of received acknowledgments, the Bureau announces that it will not pursue enforcement action against such providers.

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