Public Knowledge Urges FCC To Preserve Consumer Protections for VoIP Services

The FCC must make VoIP a Title II telecommunications service so the agency can ensure everyone has access to reliable, quality voice service.

Today, Public Knowledge filed a Petition for Declaratory Ruling urging the Federal Communications Commission to declare Voice over Internet Protocol as a Title II “common carrier” telecommunications service. Communications Workers of America, Center for Rural Strategies, National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, Next Century Cities, The Public Utility Law Project of New York, and The Utility Reform Network joined the filing.

Congress created a broad, technology-agnostic definition of a telecommunications service in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 so that consumers using future technologies such as VoIP would still receive the same level of protection and service quality as traditional communications networks. Without this reclassification, consumers risk losing valuable protections including fair pricing, service quality standards, and reliable emergency services. Public Knowledge calls on the agency to act to ensure everyone has access to reliable, quality voice service no matter what technology provides it.

The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge: 

“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. They want the privacy of their calls protected. And they want to stop getting endless robocalls. 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.

“Unfortunately, this failure of the FCC to classify facilities-based VoIP as a Title II telecommunications service has real-world consequences. As the traditional phone network disappears, so does the jurisdiction of the FCC (and that of many states) over the new IP-based telephone system. Unless the FCC acts, it will lack authority to do the most basic job Congress gave it to do – make sure that all Americans have access to a reliable, affordable phone system.

”You may view the filing. You may also view our fact sheet for more information on why the FCC should reclassify VoIP services as Title II.