A federal appeals court has refused to delay new Federal Communications Commission guidelines requiring Internet telephone companies to provide reliable 911 emergency call service.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a motion filed two weeks ago by a group of Internet telephone companies who claim the regulations are unreasonable.
In May, the FCC ordered providers of Internet-based phone calls, commonly called Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, to certify that their customers will be able to reach an emergency dispatcher when they call 911. Dispatchers also must be able to identify the caller's phone number and location.
The companies were given until Nov. 28 to comply, and many providers worried that they would be forced to disconnect customers who didn't have full 911 service.
The FCC issued the order after a series of highly publicized incidents in which Internet phone users were unable to connect with a live emergency dispatch operator when calling 911.
FCC officials clarified their position last week, saying companies that don't achieve reliable E911 service by Nov. 28 will not have to pull the plug on customers. But they will have to discontinue marketing Internet call service and accepting new customers in areas where the companies are not routing 911 calls to emergency response centers.
Jason Talley, president and chief executive of Overland Park, Kan.-based Nuvio Inc., which filed the motion for a stay on Nov. 1, said the FCC's decision ultimately reduces alternatives for customers and stifles innovation.
Talley said he and three other companies that later joined Nuvio's suit - Louisville, Ky.-based Lightyear Network Solutions LLC; McLean, Va.-based Primus Telecommunications Group Inc.'s subsidiary Lingo Inc.; and Atlanta-based i2 Telecom International Inc. -- will continue to pursue their appeal of the regulations.