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FCC Proposes Unleashing VoIP's Benefits by Easing Access to Numbers

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Released: April 18, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.


Washington, D. C. 20554

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

April 18, 2013
Mark Wigfield, 202-418-0253



Seeking Comment On Costs and Benefits, Including Ensuring Protection of Consumers, Public Safety,

Network Reliability and Numbering System

Washington, D.C. – Working to speed innovation and competition in communications services, the
Federal Communications Commission today proposed to streamline access to telephone numbers for
innovative online providers of phone service.
The proposals continue the ongoing agency-wide effort to modernize its rules for today’s broadband
marketplace, while promoting competition, protecting consumers and ensuring public safety.
Today, providers of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol services – a popular type of VoIP service
which can place calls to and receive calls from the traditional phone network as well as over the Internet –
must obtain numbers through traditional telephone companies acting as a middleman. This can raise costs
and slow introduction of innovative services, such as high-definition voice.
To determine whether a more streamlined approach is appropriate in the Internet era, the FCC is seeking
comment on whether interconnected VoIP providers should have direct access to numbers. In addition,
the FCC is seeking comment on easing access for other services that require numbers, such as IP access to
emergency services, home security systems, text messaging services, programmable appliances and
telematics like hands-free cellular modems in automobiles.
To test a number of technical issues related to the proposals, FCC also launched a limited, six-month trial
of direct access to numbers. Vonage and other VoIP providers with pending direct-access waiver
petitions at the Commission will be allowed to test direct access for 5% or fewer of the numbers they
currently access through intermediaries – phased in over 6 months – and a very limited amount of new
numbers. Participants will be required to report monthly on the progress of the trial, and can be required
to return the numbers if problems arise. In addition, the FCC granted a limited waiver to
TeleCommunication Systems, Inc., which provides access to E911 services for interconnected VoIP
Looking further ahead, the FCC opened a Notice of Inquiry asking about the long-term relationship of
numbers to geographic boundaries. The tie between area codes and geographic regions has been
weakened by number portability, especially as mobile subscribers move away from the area where they
obtained the service but continue using the number. The Inquiry seeks general comment on these trends
and whether changes in Commission policies are appropriate.

Action by the Commission April 18, 2013, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of
Inquiry (FCC 13-51). Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel and Pai. Separate
statements issued by Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel and Pai.
Commissioner McDowell not participating.
Docket No.: 13-97
Wireline Competition Bureau Staff Contact: Jamie Susskind at 202-418-1525
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