TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: FCC Delays Cutoff of Internet Phone Users

FCC Delays Cutoff of Internet Phone Users

Monty Solomon (
Sat, 27 Aug 2005 01:36:35 -0400

By JENNIFER C. KERR Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators on Friday extended a
disconnection deadline that could have left tens of thousands of
people without their Internet phone service next week.

The Federal Communications Commission said it would delay a Monday
deadline for providers of Internet-based phone calls to get
acknowledgments from their customers that they understand the problems
they may encounter when dialing 911 in an emergency.

Providers of the phone service, known as Voice over Internet Protocol
or "VoIP," had been told by the FCC that they should disconnect
service by Tuesday to people who had not responded.

But in Friday's notice, the agency said the deadline would be extended
to Sept. 28 for the providers to get their acknowledgments. If by
that time a provider still has not received confirmation from a
customer, then the company should disconnect a customer's phone
service, according to the FCC order.

The agency gave companies the option of turning off regular Internet
phone service to a client, but still allowing emergency calls to 911
to be made. As part of this so-called "soft" disconnect, a provider
could also allow customers to place non-911 calls that would
automatically be sent to the company's customer service center.

The agency's decision to extend the cutoff deadline follows a letter
from a coalition of VoIP providers, including AT&T and MCI, who
complained that customers would be left stranded in an emergency come
Tuesday. More than 30,000 people could have been left with no service
at all.


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