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ACA Commends FCC On Adoption Of Balanced VoIP Outage Order

American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka commended the Federal Communications Commission's Feb. 15 vote to adopt VoIP outage reporting requirements, noting that the agency refrained from imposing even more costly new regulatory burdens on the independent cable community.

"ACA applauds the FCC for adopting reasonable VoIP outage reporting requirements that are aligned with its public policy goal of ensuring that consumers that utilize VoIP services have reliable access to emergency services. ACA is pleased that the FCC's Order showed a willingness to respond to the concerns voiced by smaller VoIP providers, and ACA does not believe that the new reporting obligations will cause undue burdens on them," Polka said.

The adopted order was modified from the originally-proposed version.  Rules proposed last year called for tracking not just VoIP and broadband Internet outages, but also broadband service quality in general.

Before the vote, ACA explained that the FCC should resolve significant questions about its legal authority to act before it imposed outage reporting requirements on broadband Internet service providers. ACA said it would be preferable for the FCC to address threshold legal questions first.

Heeding the call of ACA and others for a more limited approach, the FCC opted to defer action in several areas, including its proposal to require broadband Internet service providers to report of outages of broadband Internet service, and to measure outages of both interconnected VoIP and broadband Internet services based on performance degradation instead of complete service outages. 

In the Order, the FCC defined outage reporting for interconnected VoIP service providers, established reporting criteria, and discussed how the reporting process should work, what information should be reported. The agency also addressed confidential treatment of the outage reports.  The FCC said outage reporting would be required for either a general subscriber outage or an outage affecting a 911 special facility if the outage lasted at least 30 minutes and potentially affected 900,000 user minutes.

"We're pleased that the FCC adopted sensible complete service outage thresholds before a VoIP provider would be required to file an outage report. With the smaller subscribership of most ACA members, it would be rare for these providers to ever have an outage that lasts long enough to affect 900,000 user minutes, and thus most VoIP providers will be spared from the added burden of outage reporting," said ACA's Matt Polka.

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