Level 3 says business, wholesale voice providers should be able to design privacy solutions

Level 3 Communications says that if the FCC moves to place privacy regulations on wholesale and enterprise voice, the regulator should update the current regulations because the needs of this segment differ from consumer voice services.

In an FCC filing, Level 3 said that the commission should "not extend mass-market consumer-focused ex ante regulations related to customer proprietary information to wholesale and enterprise voice service providers." 

The service provider added that the FCC "should update the Commission's current voice customer proprietary network information rules to account for the fundamental differences between customer expectations with respect to mass-market and non-mass-market voice services."

Level 3 cited that Section 222 of the Communications Act already provides a framework from which service providers protect a business or wholesale carrier customer's privacy.

"The Commission should not dictate how providers are to meet those obligations with respect to their wholesale and enterprise voice customers," Level 3 said. "Instead, it should exempt the provision of services to wholesale and enterprise customers from subpart U of the Commissions' rules in order to give these providers flexibility to determine, along with their customers, how they meet their statutory obligations to protect customer privacy."

There are a number of elements that make an enterprise voice contract different than what's provided to a consumer.

For one, enterprises enter into voice contracts with service providers after issuing an RFP that multiple providers will submit bids for. From there, the customers will negotiate specific terms and packages with their provider.

"These customers have the knowledge and bargaining power necessary to contract for privacy and data security protections that are tailored to meet their needs," Level 3 said. "Moreover, the privacy interests at stake in the wholesale and enterprise contexts are different than in the mass-market context."

Unless it has to meet a regulatory mandate, Level 3 added that it does not gather a record of each employee assigned to an extension of phone number.

Likewise, Level 3 said that "wholesale and enterprise service providers have access to less granular personally identifiable information than mass-market service providers do" and it does "not collect contact or account information about any of the end users of the voice service."

By exempting wholesale and enterprise voice providers from privacy regulations, Level 3 said the FCC will promote flexibility and harmonization.

"Carriers can and should be granted a comparable level of flexibility when providing voice services to wholesale and enterprise customers, while still following the letter and the spirit of Section 222," Level 3 said. "Clarifying that the statutory obligations of Section 222 apply to providers of wholesale and enterprise voice services -- while exempting these providers from the Commission's regulations that direct carriers on how to implement Section 222 -- would achieve this result."

Although service providers would still have to protect consumer information, an exemption of rules on the wholesale and business services segments means that these service providers would have greater control to meet regulatory requirements.

"Wholesale and enterprise voice providers and their sophisticated customers would have an appropriate level of flexibility and choice in determining how to meet these statutory and regulatory obligations, rather than having their relationship governed by ex ante rules designed for the mass market -- rules that would impose compliance burdens that greatly outweigh the few, if any, benefits they deliver to enterprise and wholesale customers," Level 3 said.

For more:
- see the FCC filing (PDF)

Related articles:
Level 3's Storey: We prefer to connect our fiber network to more buildings
Spherix sues Level 3 and Fairpoint over Nortel Ethernet patents
Level 3 says small cell backhaul has potential, must align with other on-net business service opportunities
Level 3's Ethernet, cloud connectivity growth could help it top Q1 earnings expectations
EarthLink, Level 3: EoHFC can't satisfy business customers' dedicated bandwidth needs