FCC Seeks Comment on Petition for Declaratory Ruling regarding the VoIP Symmetry Rule

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The Wireline Competition Bureau is seeking comment on a Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by CenturyLink Inc. regarding the application of the VoIP symmetry rule to long distance providers delivering traffic by partnering with “over-the- top” VoIP service providers who do not have last mile physical connections to end users. In a 2015 Declaratory Ruling, the FCC determined that over-the-top VoIP providers and their partnering LECs provide the functional equivalent of end-office switching services and are entitled to impose end office switching charges. In 2016, the D.C. Court of Appeals remanded the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling for further explanation concluding the FCC failed to adequately explain why over-the-top VoIP providers and their partnering LECS provide the functional equivalent of end office switching when the LEC provides call control functions which are associated with tandem switching. In its Petition, CenturyLink urges the FCC to complete the remand and resolve the underlying dispute while suggesting that the proper interpretation of the rules as applied to VoIP traffic is that they permit a LEC partnered with a VoIP provider to collect end office local switching access reciprocal compensation when the LEC and/or its VoIP partner perform certain critical call initiation or termination processes, irrespective of whether the VoIP provider also controls last-mile facilities used to reach its end user customers. Comments are due by June 18, 2018, and reply comments are due by July 3, 2018.

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