The FCC adopted new rules and proposed additional rules to modernize and strengthen its requirements for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers to obtain direct access to telephone numbers in order to reduce access to phone numbers by perpetrators of scam robocalls.  VoIP providers and other applicants seeking direct access to numbering resources should be aware of the following new rules that require such applicants to: 

  • Certify that they will not use numbers obtained through the interconnected VoIP provider numbering authorization to knowingly transmit, encourage, assist, or facilitate illegal robocalls, illegal spoofing, or fraud, in violation of FCC rules 
  • Certify that they have complied with the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication framework and robocall mitigation program requirements and filed a certification in the Robocall Mitigation Database
  • Certify that they have not been subject to a FCC, law enforcement, or regulatory agency investigation for failure to comply with any rule or order

In addition to illegal robocalling-related matters, the FCC also required VoIP providers seeking access to numbering resources to certify and make specified filings related to various VoIP compliance-related matters.

These new and proposed rules aim to inhibit makers of spoofed robocalls, as well as protect national security, promote public safety, and reduce regulatory arbitrage.  However, in practice, such rules will make it more difficult for VoIP providers to obtain access to numbering resources.  

The FCC also seeks comment on proposed rules to further increase the FCC’s oversight of entities with access to numbers, including those gaining access indirectly, in its continuing efforts to combat scam robocalling.  Specifically, the FCC seeks comment on (1) the duties of existing direct access authorization holders that received authorization prior to the newly adopted application requirements; (2) whether direct access applicants should be required to disclose a list of states in which they seek to provide initial service; and (3) a proposal to minimize the harm that may arise from bad actors that access numbering resources indirectly by holding direct access authorization holders accountable for their actions.

Comments on the FNPRM are due by November 29, 2023, and reply comments are due by December 29, 2023.