FCC commissioners yesterday voted to maintain the May 17, 2007, deadline for facilities-based broadband and voice-over-IP providers to comply with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) that lets law-enforcement officials conduct communications surveillance such as wiretaps.

In addition to reiterating next year’s compliance deadline, the commission concluded that affected entities will be responsible for paying for changes necessary to comply with the mandate and consequently denied requests for a national surcharge. Commissioners also said it was too early to dictate standards for CALEA compliance but expressly permitted carriers’ use of “trusted third parties” to meet the law’s requirements.

“The record shows [trusted third party] availability and capability to perform a number of services to advance CALEA compliance,” Commissioner Michael Copps said. “Trusted third party participation should also mean more cost-effective options for compliance, particularly for smaller carriers.”

Yesterday’s action will be applied to all providers of broadband access and VOIP companies providing connections to the public switched telephone network (PSTN), so private communications networks would not be impacted. Only a very limited number of providers can apply for an extension in the time provided to comply, said Julius Knapp, deputy chief of the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology, during a post-meeting press conference.

“Only technologies that had been deployed prior to [October] 1998 would be eligible to get an extension request,” Knapp said. “There would not be any extensions that would be considered for technologies deployed after 1998.”