VoIP Providers’ Direct Access to Numbers Opens on November 30, 2015

Most of the FCC’s new rules governing VoIP providers’ direct access to telephone numbers from the Numbering Administrators were published in the Federal Register today, making them effecting on November 30, 2015.           

In June 2015, the FCC issued its Order laying out the Commission’s framework for allowing VoIP providers with direct access to number resources from the Numbering Administrators.  The FCC acknowledges the important role that VoIP providers play in the competitive landscape, but seeks to balance the goal of putting those providers on a level playing field with the other carriers they compete with, on the one hand, with the FCC’s long-standing objectives of preventing number exhaust and preserving the integrity of the numbering system.

Among other requirements, the FCC’s Order requires VoIP providers to:

· provide applicable state commissions with contact information when requesting numbers in those states;
· apply for numbers under their own Operating Company Number (OCN); and
· provide at least 30 days’ notice of their number requests.

If the VoIP provider is not already operating pursuant to a state certification, the provider must receive FCC certification via a new “Numbering Authorization Application.”  The Wireline Competition Bureau will oversee that process.  The application, which will be “deemed granted” on the 31st day after the Bureau releases a Public Notice of that application unless the Bureau holds otherwise, requires applicants to:

· comply with numbering-related rules and guidelines from the FCC, state commissions, and · provide contact information for the providers’ personnel qualified to address issues relating to regulatory requirements, compliance, 911 and law enforcement;
· provide proof of compliance with the FCC’s “facilities readiness” requirement;
· certify that it is in compliance with contribution obligations relating to USF, TRS, LNP, and other regulatory fees; and
· certify that it has the requisite technical, managerial and financial capacity to provide service, including that none of its key management and technical personnel identified to support such capacities “are being or have been investigated . . . for failure to comply with any law, rule, or order.”

While the FCC deferred to the North American Numbering Council and its Technology Transitions Order docket the full extent to which VoIP providers could access nationwide numbering resources, the FCC declined to impose geographic limitations VoIP providers’ ability to port numbers.  Wireline and wireless carriers and interconnected VoIP providers must port numbers to each other whenever “technically feasible.”