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Friday, November 09, 2007

Commission Expands Local Number Portability Obligations to Interconnected VoIP Providers

In an Order released Nov. 8, 2007, the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) took several actions relating to local number portability (“LNP”) that affect all carriers, including VoIP carriers.

With the ostensible goal of streamlining the LNP process across the telecommunications industry, the Commission unequivocally extended LNP obligations to interconnected VoIP providers for the first time. Imposition of such obligations is ironic, in light of the fact that VoIP providers still have no right to obtain numbers directly, and instead typically rely on partner CLECs in order to provide numbers to their end users. The Commission reiterated that entities obligated to provide local number porting, including VoIP providers, may not obstruct or delay the porting process by demanding excessive information from the porting-in entity. The Commission also issued a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (“RFA”), in response to the D.C. Circuit’s stay of the Commission’s 2003 Intermodal Number Portability Order. In response to the D.C. Circuit, the FCC clarified that wireline carriers qualifying as small entities under the RFA are required to port numbers to wireless carriers when the wireless carrier’s coverage area overlaps the location of the territory where the wireline number is provisioned, provided that the porting-in carrier maintained the number’s original rate center designation following the port.

This is the FCC’s latest order in a series of orders that has extended traditional wireline regulation to interconnected VoIP carriers citing its exercise of its “ancillary jurisdiction;” the same rationale provided by the FCC (and upheld by the D.C. Circuit) in imposing USF obligations on other interconnected VoIP carriers.

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