Specifically, the FCC Order applies to VoIP service providers the discontinuance obligations that now apply to nondominant telecommunications carriers. As a result, before an interconnected VoIP provider may discontinue service, it must comply with the FCC’s streamlined discontinuance requirements. These include requirements to
- provide written notice to all affected customers,
- notify relevant state authorities (including the state commission), and
- file an application for authorization of the planned discontinuance with the FCC.
A VoIP provider's service discontinuance application will be automatically granted by the FCC on the 31st day after the FCC releases public notice of the application, unless the FCC notifies the applicant otherwise. “Thus we believe,” concluded the FCC, “that interconnected VoIP providers will be faced with discontinuance requirements that are no more burdensome than the reduced requirements that already apply to competitive carriers, and that their customers will be afforded a reasonable time to make alternative service arrangements in the event of a discontinuance, reduction, or impairment of service.”
Although the FCC continues to resist classifying VoIP service as a telecommunications or information service, this order adds yet another telecommunications-type requirement on VoIP providers, which must already
- contribute to the federal universal service program,
- provide access to E-911 and the relay service for the deaf,
- participate in local number portability (which enables customers to retain their telephone number when they switch providers), and
- provide law enforcement access to wiretaps.