Federal Communications Commission Requirements
To reduce these differences and any possible risks to public safety posed by interconnected VoIP 911 service, the FCC has imposed the following requirements:
All interconnected VoIP providers must automatically provide 911 service to all their customers as a standard, mandatory feature without customers having to specifically request this service. VoIP providers may not allow their customers to "opt-out" of 911 service.
Before an interconnected VoIP provider can activate a new customer's service, the provider must obtain from the customer the physical location at which the service will first be used, so that emergency services personnel will be able to locate any customer dialing 911. Interconnected VoIP providers must also provide 1 or more easy ways for their customers to update the physical location they have registered with the provider, if it changes.
Interconnected VoIP providers must transmit all 911 calls, as well as a callback number and the caller's registered physical location, to the appropriate emergency services call center or local emergency authority.
Interconnected VoIP providers must take appropriate action to ensure that their customers have a clear understanding of the limitations, if any, of their 911 service. All providers must specifically advise new and existing customers, prominently and in plain language, of the circumstances under which 911 service may not be available through the interconnected VoIP service or may in some way be limited in comparison to traditional 911 service. They must distribute labels to all customers warning them if 911 service may be limited or not available and instructing them to place the labels on and/or near the equipment used in conjunction with the interconnected VoIP service.
Interconnected VoIP providers must obtain affirmative acknowledgement from all existing customers that they are aware of and understand the limitations of their 911 service.
In some areas, emergency service providers are not capable of receiving or processing the location information or call back number that is automatically transmitted with 911 calls. In those areas, interconnected VoIP providers must ensure that a 911 call is routed to the appropriate PSAP.
Filing a Complaint with the FCC
If you have been unable to access emergency services while using VoIP service, you can file a complaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file your complaint using an FCC online complaint form. You can also file your complaint with the FCC's Consumer Center by:
Calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)
TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, Southwest
Washington, D.C. 20554
What to Include in Your Complaint
The best way for you to provide all the information the FCC needs to process your complaint is to complete fully the online complaint form. When you open the online complaint form, you will be asked a series of questions that will take you to the particular section of the form you need to complete. If you do not use the online complaint form, your complaint, at a minimum, should indicate:
Your name, address, email address and phone number where you can be reached
The name and phone number of the company that you're complaining about
Telephone number involved, account number, date of incident and description of the problem
For More Information
For more information about interconnected VoIP and 911, visit the FCC's VoIP 911 website. For more information about VoIP in general, see the FCC's consumer guide. You can also contact the FCC's Consumer Center using the information provided for filing a complaint. You can also read the VoIP and 911 Service Guide (PDF) for more information.