VOIP services

FCC Installs Shorter Port Window

3:35 PM -- In a move that put a smile on the face of everyone in the cable industry and could cause telco line losses to accelerate at an even faster rate, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a measure that requires wireline, wireless, and some VoIP service providers to port existing phone numbers to a new provider within one business day. The current requirement is four days. (See FCC Speeds Up Number Porting.)

The FCC has given service providers (save for some small carriers) nine months to implement the speedier process from the time the Commission obtains "key input" from the North American Numbering Council (NANC), which is due within 90 days of the effective date of the new FCC order. Small carriers will have 15 months to comply.

The cable industry, which has had no qualms about stealing voice market share from the telcos, has been pushing hard for the measure. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) SVP and GM of voice services Catherine Avgiris, for example, called today's decision "a pro-consumer and pro-competitive action." The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) likes it too. (See NCTA Cheers Shorter Phone Porting Period.)

The shorter porting window will also give incumbent providers less time to try to win customers back. Earlier this year, an appeals court spoiled an attempt by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) to overturn an FCC order that prevents the telco from engaging in some controversial retention tactics. (See Verizon Loses Phone Win-Back Challenge and FCC Orders Verizon to Dial Back Win Back Tactics.)

In a separate order, the FCC mandated that "interconnected" VoIP providers (those that allow subs to place and receive calls on the public switched telephone network in addition to those sent and received via the IP) adhere to some new "consumer protections," namely that they (gasp!) notify customers before they discontinue, reduce, or impair service like other "conventional providers" must do now.

For example, interconnected VoIP providers "can no longer close shop without notice," leaving customers suddenly twisting in the wind without phone service.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:04:49 PM
re: FCC Installs Shorter Port Window

USTelecom president and CEO Walter McCormick Jr. chimed in, too, but he's not quite as giddy about this as the cable guys are.

Generally, he said the assoc. supports the effort to trim the porting window, but notes that making changes involve a "complex process" and that he's eager to see "how the Commission has satisfied its specific statutory obligation to enable providers to recover costs for implementing these regulatory requirements."

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