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Review: My First Day With Vonage, Excellent!
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Vonage Customer Review: One month with Vonage, and...
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California Withdraws VoIP Regulation Appeal


Vonage In Print News

California Withdraws Voice Over Internet Protocol Appeal While Debate Regarding 911 Service May Trigger FCC Action

May 6, 2005

By Staff

The California Public Utilities Commission withdrew its appeal of the FCC’s 2004 Vonage decision preempting state regulation of Voice over Internet Protocol ("VoIP") service. The CPUC was the first state commission to appeal the FCC’s decision. In a three-to-one vote, the CPUC decided to withdraw the appeal during a closed meeting.

CPUC President Michael Peevey stated that he voted to withdraw the appeal because it was a "loser issue" and that Voip is "obviously" an interstate service. The lone dissenter, CPUC Commissioner Geoffrey Brown, stated that the CPUC was "abdicating to the FCC the control we have in telecom." California consumer groups objected to the decision, arguing that the agency favored the communications industry over consumers. The CPUC’s decision may lead other states to withdraw their appeals, all of which were consolidated before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

As reported in last month’s Bulletin, Voice over Internet protocol provider Vonage Holdings Corporation ("Vonage") has complained that incumbent local carriers are rebuffing its requests for access to selective routers that connect directly to emergency call operators that would allow Vonage to provide emergency 911 ("911") service. Some incumbents defended their position by saying they preferred to focus on industry-wide solutions. The FCC Wireline Bureau subsequently met with representatives of the Bell Operating Companies on this issue, although the staff would not comment on the meetings. It now appears that Vonage is making headway with numerous incumbent carriers.

Qwest had participated in a test of Vonage’s 911 solution in Washington, after which Qwest had questioned the solution. Nevertheless, recently Vonage reportedly reached an agreement with Qwest in which 911 calls from Vonage customers will go directly to emergency dispatchers in the 14 states in which Qwest provides local service. SBC Communications Inc. ("SBC") also has since begun talks with Vonage for the provision of 911. According to SBC, it would negotiate a commercial agreement with Vonage for access to SBC’s network, but Vonage must separately reach agreements with each public safety entity for the delivery of 911 service. Vonage also has stated that it was making progress with Verizon Communications, which is conducting technical trials in New York for an interim 911 solution.

Upon hearing about the problems Vonage was having with local carriers, Chairman Martin announced during a House subcommittee hearing that he will be proposing rules requiring Voip providers to offer 911 services. Martin indicated the proposal could come quickly so that the full Commission could potentially vote on it at the May 19 meeting. Martin noted that the FCC has an obligation to act quickly on this issue give that it has insulated Voip providers from many state regulations.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has ruled that providers of "fixed" Voip service must offer the same level of 911 service that incumbent telephone companies provide. The Canadian regulator gave Voip providers 90 days to come into compliance with its mandate. The regulator also ruled that providers of "nomadic" or "nongeographic" Voip service must implement an interim solution within 90 days, such as using intermediaries to serve as hubs for emergency calls. In addition, Canadian Voip providers must notify customers of any limitations to their 911 service and obtain customers’ express acknowledgement that they are aware of the limitations.



 
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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See www.vonage.com/911 for details.

** Certain call types excluded.

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