VOIP Outage Reporting Requirements to Take Effect December 16, 2012

In several earlier posts, we informed you the FCC had adopted mandatory outage reporting regulations for both facilities-based and non-facilities-based interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers. The FCC has now established those rules will take effect before the end of the year. For more details on the VoIP outage reporting regulations, see our full Advisory.

As we explained, the effective date of the new VoIP outage reporting rules would be delayed until 90 days after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approves the information collection required by the Report and Order. Well, that process is complete, and the FCC published in the Federal Register today a notice announcing the effective date of the new rules as December 16, 2012.

If they haven’t already, VoIP providers should make sure they understand the new requirements and have processes in place to ensure that the FCC’s tight reporting requirements can be met in a timely fashion --- some reports must be filed within four hours of an outage commencing. Significant enforcement penalties may apply in cases of non-compliance. In the past, the FCC has set significant fines for carriers subject to similar outage reporting obligations in a timely fashion. It has used base forfeitures of $40,000 for failing to file an initial outage Electronic Notification, $20,000 for failing to file the subsequent outage reports and $25,000 for filing incomplete or inaccurate reports. Presumably, similar base fines will likely apply to a VoIP provider that fails to comply with the new rules, although perhaps limited to $16,000 per violation per day, since VoIP providers have not to date been classified as telecom carriers. The prospective fines will vary depending on the circumstances. But as we note elsewhere, at least for now, VoIP providers may be subject to monetary forfeitures only after they first receive a citation.