MPSC Asks Michigan Legislature to Amend Telecom Act

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MPSC Asks Michigan Legislature to Amend the Michigan Telecommunications Act to Add Voice over Internet Protocol Consumer Protection Measures

Contact: Judy Palnau (517) 241-3323 April 28, 2005

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today issued an order asking the Michigan legislature to amend the Michigan Telecommunications Act to authorize it to address concerns raised about Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service. VOIP is a developing technology that may be used to transmit voice conversations over the Internet. It is the subject of ongoing debates among state and federal regulators, legislators and the telecommunications industry.

"Michigan residents using Voice over Internet Protocol deserve consumer protections," said MPSC Chairman J. Peter Lark. "Because the Michigan Telecommunications Act is silent on Voice over Internet Protocol service using the public switched telephone network, customers using this new technology do not have consumer protections that telecommunication customers have. As has already been demonstrated in Michigan and elsewhere, lack of 9-1-1 access using VOIP service is a serious concern. We are asking the Michigan legislature to amend the MTA and put safeguards in place for VOIP customers."

The MPSC on March 16, 2004 started an investigation of VOIP in Michigan, asking for comments on VOIP issues in Michigan. The Commission received comments from 38 organizations and individuals. Comments included identification of known VOIP providers serving Michigan customers; the proper degree of regulation; telephone numbering resources; emergency calling; universal service fund; access charge structures; abbreviated and toll-free dialing; quality of service; and various technical issues.

Today's MPSC order asks the Michigan legislature to authorize it to assess the effect of VOIP service over the public switched telephone network on Michigan citizens, to adopt non-intrusive registration and certification mechanisms by which customer complaints regarding voice communication services may be forwarded to the appropriate companies, and to ensure that all citizens of the state have the benefit of enhanced 9-1-1 services.

The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Labor & Economic Growth.

Case No. U-14073

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Jack Decker
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