FCC Asks VoIP Services to Report Service Outages

February 16, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

In a move to make a more reliable 911 emergence call-in system than what exists now, the top body of telecommunications in the country – the Federal Communications Commission – has decided to ask every interconnected Voice Over Internet Protocol service providers to report service outages with their office in a similar way the telephone companies who provide cell phone and landline services do.

The ruling came as FCC started considering VoIP services on par with traditional means of contacting the emergency service at 911.

The FCC, which stands for maximum public safety at any point, according to its chairman, wants to ensure that consumers will have to access to reliable phone services during emergency times to contact 911.

Though FCC has not included VoIP services in its concern at the beginning, with the number of households listed as having only VoIP as means of communication started showing a steady increase, they have changed their stand on VoIP.

According to the figures available from the FCC, around 31 percent of the residential telephone subscriptions in the country are using VoIP service.

Currently, the rules set by the top body on outage reporting cover only wired and wireless services, as VoIP does not come under wireless services. Since VoIP services are not obliged to report the outages, FCC will not be in a position to get information on outages that may cut off millions of people across different states. What happened during the Hurricane Irene in last summer exemplifies the scenario.

With VoIP services starting to report outages to FCC on a regular basis, they will be able to track and analyses outages and understand the status of the public to reach out 911 services and can also find ways to prevent such outages in the future. However the move has included only VoIP services and yet to include broadband internet services.

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