On September 21, the FCC adopted
rules that would strengthen and modernize the requirements that providers under the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) need to abide by to obtain direct access to telephone numbers. The rules impose guardrails to make it more difficult for those who make illegal robocalls to access telephone numbers, which the FCC stated helps to protect national security and law enforcement, safeguard the nation’s finite numbering resources, reduce the opportunity for regulatory arbitrage, and further promote public safety. The FCC finalized the rules after the FCC sought comment in 2021 under the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, which directed the FCC to examine its rules regarding direct access to telephone numbers.
The rules require an applicant seeking direct access to telephone numbers to:
- Provide certifications regarding its compliance with FCC robocall rules, FCC interconnected VoIP provider rules, and timely filing of FCC Forms 477 and 499.
- Submit disclosures on and continue to update its ownership structure, including related foreign entities, to reduce the risk that U.S. numbering resources reach bad actors abroad.
- Comply with applicable business-related state laws and registration requirements.
The rules codify the FCC’s role in completing direct access application review and rejection and the authorization revocation process.
Additionally, the rules instruct the North American Numbering Council to study numbering use to inform the FCC’s future rulemaking. The rules also seek comments on a variety of topics, including further reforms on new direct access applications, duties of existing direct access authorization holders, and whether direct access applicants should disclose a list of states where they will provide initial services.
The rules will take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.