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Background Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a Technology For

Background Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a Technology For

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Published by: ramachandra on Jan 03, 2010
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06/05/2011

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1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) Fax: 1-866-418-0232
 
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Federal Communications Commission Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau 445 12th St., SW Washington, DC 20554
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Washington, DC 20554
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How VoIP Works
VoIP converts the voice signal from your telephone into a digital signal that can travelover the Internet. If you are calling a regular telephone number, the signal is thenconverted back at the other end. Dependingon the type of VoIP service, you can make aVoIP call from a computer, a special VoIPphone, or a traditional phone with or withoutan adapter. In addition, new wireless "hotspots" in public locations such as airports,parks, and cafes allow you to connect to theInternet, and may enable you to use VoIPservice wirelessly. If your VoIP serviceprovider assigns you a regular telephonenumber, then you can receive calls fromregular telephones that don’t need specialequipment, and most likely you’ll be able todial just as you always have.Here is one example of how VoIP serviceworks:
Background
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology for communicating using “Internet protocol”instead of traditional analog systems. Some VoIP services need only a regular phone connection,while others allow you to make telephone calls using an Internet connection instead. Some VoIPservices may allow you only to call other people using the same service, but others may allow you tocall any telephone number - including local, long distance, wireless, and international numbers.
What Kind of Equipment Do I Need?
You may need an Internet connection, and,for many types of VoIP calls, you need abroadband Internet connection. For informationon broadband Internet connections, visit
.Depending on the VoIP service you purchase,you may need a computer, a special VoIPtelephone, or a regular telephone with anadapter. If you are calling a regular telephonenumber, the person you are calling does notneed any special equipment, just a telephone.
How Do I Use My VoIP Service?
If you use a VoIP telephone or regular telephone, you place and receive calls much likeyou do with regular telephone service. If youuse VoIP with your computer, a telephone iconusually appears on your computer screen.Clicking the icon allows you to dial numbersfrom a pad, or dial a call by clicking on acontact’s pre-programmed name and number.You will then hear a ring just like any other call.Computer-based VoIP services have a variety of ways for notifying you that you have an incomingcall.
What Are Some Advantages of VoIP?
VoIP may offer features and services that arenot available with more traditional telephoneservices. If you use VoIP, you can decidewhether to pay the cost of keeping your regular (More)
 
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1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) Fax: 1-866-418-0232
 
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Federal Communications Commission Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau 445 12th St., SW Washington, DC 20554
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telephone service.
Are There Special Considerations for UsingVoIP?
If you’re considering replacing your traditionaltelephone service with VoIP, be aware that:
Some VoIP service providers may havelimitations to their 911 service. For moreinformation on VoIP and 911 services, visit theFCC’s VoIP 911 Web site atYou can also use your computer and VoIP service at the same time. Youcan also take some VoIP services with you whenyou travel and use them via an Internetconnection.
, or see the FCC’sconsumer advisory at
.
Some VoIP services don’t work during power outages and the service provider may not offer backup power.
VoIP providers may or may not offer directoryassistance/white page listings.These factors may change with newdevelopments in VoIP technology. You shouldalways check with potential VoIP service providersto confirm any limitations to their service, including911 service.
 
With VoIP, Is There a Difference BetweenMaking a Local Call and a Long Distance Call?
Some VoIP providers do not charge for calls toother subscribers to the service. Some VoIPproviders charge for a long distance call to anumber outside your calling area, similar toexisting, traditional wireline telephone service.Other VoIP providers permit you to call anywhereat a flat rate for a fixed number of minutes. Your VoIP provider may permit you to select an areacode for your VoIP service that is different fromthe area code in which you live. Calls within your VoIP area code may not be billed as long distancecalls. People calling your VoIP area code fromanother area code, however, may incur longdistance charges.
Does the FCC Regulate VoIP?
The FCC has worked to create an environmentpromoting competition and innovation to benefitconsumers and, where necessary, has acted toensure that VoIP providers comply with importantpublic safety requirements and public policy goals.For example, due to reports that some VoIPsubscribers were unable to access 911 emergencyservices, in June 2005 the FCC imposed 911obligations on providers of “interconnected” VoIPservices – VoIP services that allow users generallyto make calls to and receive calls from the regular telephone network. (You should know, however,that 911 calls using VoIP are handled differentlythan 911 calls using your regular telephone service.Please see the FCC’s consumer advisory on VoIPand 911 services at
for complete information on these differences.)The FCC requires interconnected VoIP providersand telephone companies that obtain numbers for them to comply with Local Number Portability (LNP)rules. Beginning in late summer 2010, VoIPproviders, as well as wireless and wireline providers,must shorten the porting period for “simple” portsfrom the current four days to one business day. Thenew deadline applies to all simple ports – including“intermodal” ports such as wireline to wireless,wireless to wireline, wireline or wireless to VoIP, or any other combination. Simple ports generally donot involve more than one line or more complexadjustments to telephone switching equipment.VoIP providers must also contribute to fundsestablished to share LNP and numberingadministration costs among all telecommunicationsproviders benefiting from these services.For more information regarding the FCC’s LNPrequirements, see the FCC’s consumer fact sheet at
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Does the FCC Regulate VoIP? (cont’d.)
The FCC also limits interconnected VoIPproviders' use of customer proprietary networkinformation (CPNI) such as your telephone callingrecords, and requires interconnected VoIPproviders to protect it from disclosure. For moreinformation on these limits and requirements, seethe FCC’s consumer fact sheet at
. The FCC also requires interconnectedVoIP providers to contribute to the UniversalService Fund, which supports communicationsservices in high-cost areas and for income-eligibletelephone subscribers.Interconnected VoIP providers must complywith the Commission's Telecommunications RelayServices (TRS) requirements,including contributing to the TRS Fund used tosupport the provision of telecommunicationsservices to persons with speech or hearingdisabilities, and offering 711 abbreviated dialingfor access to relay services. Interconnected VoIPproviders and equipment manufacturers alsomust ensure that, consistent with Section 255 of the Communications Act, their services areavailable to and usable by individuals withdisabilities, if such access is readily achievable.For more information about Section 255requirements, see the FCC’s consumer fact sheetat
.
Filing a Complaint with the FCC
If you have concerns about an interconnectedVoIP provider’s handling of your 911 calls or telephone calling records, making servicesavailable to and usable by individuals withdisabilities, or porting your telephone number, firsttry to resolve the matter with the VoIP provider. If you can’t resolve the matter directly, you can file acomplaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file your complaintusing an on-line complaint form found at
esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htmFiling a Complaint with the FCC (cont’d.)
1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing1-866-418-0232; or writing to:Federal Communications CommissionConsumer & Governmental Affairs BureauConsumer Inquiries and Complaints Division445 12
th
Street, SWWashington, D.C. 20554.
What to Include in Your Complaint
The best way to provide all the information theFCC needs to process your complaint regardingany of these issues is to complete fully the on-line complaint form. When you open the on-linecomplaint 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 youdo not use the on-line complaint form, your complaint, at a minimum should indicate:
your name, address, e-mail address, andphone number where you can be reached;
the telephone and account numbers that arethe subject of your complaint;
 
the names and phone numbers of anycompanies involved in your complaint; and
 
 
the details of your complaint and anyadditional relevant information.
 
. You can alsofile your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by e-mailing
; calling1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 
1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) Fax: 1-866-418-0232
 
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Federal Communications Commission Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau 445 12th St., SW Washington, DC 20554
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For More Information
For more information about VoIP, visit theFCC’s VoIP We page at
.For information about other telecommunications issues, visit the FCC’sConsumer & Governmental Affairs BureauWeb site at
, or contact theFCC Consumer Center using the informationprovided for filing a complaint.

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