Analyst: Martin circulates VoIP 911 order
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin has proposed an order to be considered during the commission’s May 19 meeting that would require voice-over-IP (VoIP) providers to deliver 911 calls to the appropriate public-safety answering point (PSAP), according to an analyst report yesterday.
Last week, Martin testified before Congress that he wanted to give the commission an opportunity to address the VoIP 911 issue during the month of May, but procedural deadlines to put an item on the FCC’s agenda raised questions whether an order would be considered during the commission’s May meeting.
Martin has met that deadline and has circulated a proposed order to his fellow commissioners to make a May 19 vote possible, Medley Global Advisors analyst Jessica Zufolo said yesterday during an interview with MRT. VoIP providers have offered consumers significant savings compared to traditional telephony rates, largely because regulated telephone carriers must include charges for items such as 911 and universal service. Martin’s proposed order could lead to VoIP providers paying fees for 911 and other regulatory-driven line items, which could wipe out their current price advantages, Zufolo said.
“In terms of the competitive landscape, this would make it considerably more difficult for those VoIP providers that aren’t affiliated with a carrier–or someone else with deep pockets–to compete in the marketplace,” Zufolo said during an interview with MRT.
These realities ultimately could force many independent VoIP providers to consolidate or close their doors, Zufolo said.
The FCC has received increased pressure to address VoIP 911 during the past few months, with the Texas attorney general filing a consumer-protection suit against Vonage in March for not clearly disclosing to customers the limitations of its service. Connecticut’s attorney general filed a similar suit this week against Vonage on Tuesday.