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November 10, 2004


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Given the recent ruling by FCC that certain VoIP services are interstate in nature, should they be also forced to offer numbers that do not have geographic significance? Why should AT&T say attract subscribers because they are able to offer 212 area code numbers and not pay the fair "dues" to NY? Is this going to be new line of attack from the incumbents?

Richard Stastny

Additional Comment on geographic versus non-geographic numbers: Mobile and VoIP numbers may be considered (in most cases) as personal numbers. Today persons are very mobile and could in principle use national or even global numbers. Geographic numbers have geographic significance and may be used in future only for businesses bound to a specific geographic area (it does not make sense to order a pizza in New York if you are sitting in San Francisco). In principle also in the NANPA a personal number range exists (1-500) and would be ideal for VoIP numbers. The problem is that this number range has been spoiled with a very expensive service in the past. The advantage of using such a number range for VoIP (and also with ENUM - similar to the number range +43780 in Austria) is that calls could be dumped immediately to the Internet in the originating network and therefore could be charged like local calls. BTW, a re-launch may happen very soon ;-)

Richard Stastny

In the US fixed and mobile numbers both use geographic area codes (this is the reason why US mobile custumers pay air-time). In many other countries there exists already a class system, because they use already special number ranges for mobile phones (e.g. most countries in Europe) and consider it therefore natural to open also special number ranges for (nomadic) VoIP subscribers. In these countries geographic numbers are considered to be strongly bound to the geographic area and only available for residents in this area. This does not preclude to use geographic numbers for VoIP, but with restrictions. E.g. in Austria (and also in Germany) you MAY use a geographic number for VoIP, but only if it is guarantied that you use this number (and provide the CLI) if you originate the call from the given location. The reason is not to confuse emergency call takers as long as it is not technical possible to provide the real location in case of nomadicity. The second reason is of course the fear of number exhaust in popular areas. There is of course the valid fear from virtual VoIP service providers that subscribers may prefer geographic numbers because the new number ranges will not be contained in call bundles and also will be more expensive then local calls (because also mobile calls are more expensive with special number ranges because in this case the calling party pays).

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