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FCC Still Hammering Out Mandatory/Voluntary Issues With VoIP Outage Reporting

With the FCC meeting only a day away, FCC commissioners were still hammering out the details of the FCC's proposal to require outage reporting by cable VoIP phone providers.

Phone is a big part of the cable bundle, but outage reporting requirements could become a big headache as well, with the costs of compliance outweighing the benefits, some cable operators have argued.

The FCC Wednesday plans to vote, and almost certainly approve, extending outage reporting requirements to interconnected VoIP service, with a focus on 911 services for "the growing number of Americans who rely on VOIP phone service."

That is according to a highly placed FCC official, who said that cable operators would not love it by the very nature of the new requirement -- the National Cable 7 Telecommunications Association opposes it -- but that it would be better than the industry initially expected.

The source said the key sticking point is clarifying what is voluntary and what is mandatory, and that there were still edits being made to the item.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has urged the commission not to impose "mandatory reporting obligations on providers of broadband Internet access or backbone services" but instead to "pursue an approach based on public/private sector collaboration instead."

Cable operators recognize the need for reliable VoIP 9/11 -- cable operators are increasingly big players in the phone space. But unlike traditional circuit-switched phone companies that have decades of experience, cable operators are relatively new to the business, and identifying outages in an online phone system poses different challenges, according to one veteran cable attorney.