FCC revamps numbering rules, gives VoIP providers direct number access

The FCC has passed a new set of rules that will allow interconnected VoIP providers like Vonage and Ooma to obtain telephone numbers directly.

Up till now VoIP providers have been required to get numbers from third-party carriers. By allowing these service providers to access these numbers directly, the FCC said VoIP providers can reduce costs and drive additional competition. 

The FCC's new order that was adopted unanimously also facilitates the ongoing transitions in communications technology and improves FCC oversight of the numbering system. By making these improvements, the FCC said it will ensure that calls connect nationwide and provide more accountability in and protections for the numbering system. 

In addition, the order imposes a number of conditions to protect and enhance the security and integrity of the numbering system. Conditions will also ensure that all numbers distributed are used, protecting the system from running out of phone numbers.

VoIP continues to grow in popularity. According to the FCC's estimates, VoIP already accounts for nearly one-third of all local phone subscribers, or 48 million connections.

"As our communications infrastructure transitions to IP networks, the Commission has worked to preserve the values that consumers and businesses have come to expect from their networks, while unleashing new waves of better products and services made possible by these more efficient networks," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a statement. "Today, the Commission moves to expedite the ongoing technology transitions and enhance one of the most popular services they have already enabled: Voice over Internet Protocol (or VoIP as it's commonly known)."

Vonage, a VoIP provider that's been moving fast into the small to medium business (SMB) space that conducted a numbering trial in 2013, praised the FCC's actions.

Alan Masarek, CEO of Vonage, said in a statement that the rules will enable it to provide a higher quality of service, offer new features and drive down costs.

"We look forward to realizing the benefits that direct access will bring to our consumer and business customers," Masarek said. "We will be able to provide a higher quality of service to our customers and more rapidly deploy new and innovative features and services, while realizing cost savings for the Company."

For more:
- see the release

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