The Italian regulatory authority AGCOM has opened a public consultation on a set of proposed regulatory interventions relating to VoIP-enabled services (Delibera 26/05/CIR). The deadline for responses is 30 days from today, i.e. 26 August 2005.
T-REGS Note: the approach proposed by AGCOM deviates very substantially from the conclusions that have been reached in 2004 and 2005 by other National Regulatory Authorities in the European Union, and is therefore of particular interest.
Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the document provide a summary of recent developments at supranational level, including in particular the European Commission’s Information and Consultation Document on the Treatment of VoIP under the EU Regulatory Framework of June 2004, the CEPT/ECC report on Numbering for VoIP Services of December 2004 and the ERG Common Statement for VoIP Regulatory Approaches of February 2005.
In Section 4, AGCOM reports on the outcome of preliminary discussions that were held with Italian operators (draft AGCOM Guidelines and meeting of 12 May 2005, which was announced also on the T-REGS website), and AGCOM concludes that 3 main types of VoIP-enabled services are currently available on the Italian market, which are taken as a basis for a categorisation.
This leads AGCOM to formulating 3 key proposals, which structure all the subsequent and more detailed proposals, and are as follows:
1) Geographic numbers should only be available for PATS VoIP services which are equivalent to the traditional PSTN service (for example non-nomadic services).
2) A new category of numbers should be created for nomadic PATS VoIP services and for PATS VoIP-enabled services which have characteristics and features that are different from the traditional PSTN service.
3) VoIP-enabled services accessible to the public that do not require resources from the national numbering plan (but may use numbering/addressing resources that are different from E.164 numbers) require general authorisation under Italian law as electronic communications services (ECS). Self-provided consumer VoIP and Corporate internal VoIP use on a business LAN/WAN are not considered as being subject to the requirement for general authorisation, in accordance with the guidance provided by the European Commission.
The most important specific proposals formulated by AGCOM can be summarised as follows:
• Definition of additional modalities for the granting of geographic number ranges, in particular the principle that geographic numbers are only available for PATS VoIP services that are equivalent to the traditional PSTN service, and a confirmation of associated PATS obligations (number portability, access to emergency services, network integrity, availability at a fixed location, minimum QoS).
• An explicit prohibition on the provision of nomadic services using geographic numbers. Associated with this, an obligation for non-nomadic (PATS) operators, to impede, when possible, the use of the service at a different location than is specified in the contract, plus a requirement for the operator to inform the end-user that the service may only be provided at the contractually stipulated location.
• The creation of a new number range 5xy UUUUUUU for ‘PATS VoIP nomadic and innovative services’, whereby the digits x and y can be granted on the basis of the operator or on the basis of the type of service, and whereby blocks of 1000 numbers are assigned to operators.
• An explicit prohibition on the provision of nomadic (PATS) VoIP service using any other resources from the national numbering plan than the 5xy range.
• Requirements for providers of VoIP-enabled services that use geographic numbers and non-geographic numbers (5xy) – which are all categorised as PATS – to provide access to emergency services, with limited flexibility on location information for the emergency services in case of nomadic PATS VoIP (e.g. pre-agreed locations), and with a possibility for exemption in cases where the user also has access to a PSTN line for access to emergency services (with some comments about integrated terminal equipment that could be connected both via VoIP and via the PSTN).
• Implementation of number portability for all PATS VoIP services, including an explicit statement that operators using the 5xy number range will have to contribute to the management of the number portability database.
• A recommendation that all non-PATS ECS VoIP providers (which would not have the right to obtain any resources from the national numbering plan) provide access to emergency services if they are interconnected with the PSTN.
For a discussion of the regulation of VoIP, in Italy and in other European countries, including issues of consistency of national regulation with EU Directives, please contact Yves Blondeel.