Labor, public interest groups petition the FCC to preserve consumer protections for interconnected VoIP service by classifying it as “common carrier” telecommunications service

Labor and public interest groups petitioned the FCC for a declaratory ruling to preserve consumer protections for interconnected Voice over IP (VoIP) by classifying it under Title II of the Communications Act as a “common carrier” telecommunications service. The petition signed by CWA, Public Knowledge, The Utility Reform Network, the Center for Rural Strategies, the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, Next Century Cities, and the Public Utility Law Project of New York, warns that “universal service, anti-discrimination, consumer protection, intercarrier competition, and even public safety and national security are all threatened by the lack of Title II authority over interconnected VoIP.” Because traditional voice service and interconnected VoIP are functionally indistinguishable from each other, both services should be treated as telecommunications services regardless of the technology used. 

“When consumers subscribe to a phone service, they want it to work. They want to connect to any other phone number, no matter the carrier,” said Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge. “They do not care about the phone technology, whether their phones use Voice over Internet Protocol or traditional circuit switching or something else. But, bizarrely, the FCC has yet to make the simple determination that a phone is a phone is a phone.”

Links:

Public Knowledge Urges FCC To Preserve Consumer Protections for VoIP Services (Public Knowledge, Mar. 2, 2022)