ACMA regulates geographic numbers for VoIP

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ACMA regulates geographic numbers for VoIP

Calls may be charged by number, not location.

Communications regulator ACMA has introduced legislative amendments to regulate the phone numbers issued to VoIP customers.

From tomorrow, Australia's Numbering Plan would be amended (pdf) to allow geographic numbers - such as those with 02, 03 or 08 area codes - to be issued to outbound VoIP services.

Providers of those services were specifically required to inform customers about "the implications of choosing out of area geographic numbers".

An ACMA spokesman highlighted untimed local calls, which may be charged as if the customer was located within the charging district for their geographic number, no matter their physical location.

VoIP customers who had been issued geographic numbers may also have difficulty porting the number to another carriage service provider, ACMA warned.

Customers who did not wish to be tied to a geographic number could be issued "nomadic" numbers beginning with 0550.

According to the ACMA spokesman, the regulator has issued 9,000 nomadic numbers to six VoIP providers since they were introduced in 2007.

 "The introduction and uptake of new services such as VoIP has challenged the relevance of parts of the Numbering Plan, which dated back to 1997, to meet industry and consumer needs," said ACMA acting chairman, Richard Bean.

"The implementation of these amendments represents a small but important step in regulatory transition for VoIP and other converged services."

The introduction of the amendments followed ACMA's March 2010 public consultation on geographic number amendments (pdf) which drew submissions from service providers, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and NSW Fire Brigades.

In November, the ACMA released its first discussion paper on the how Australian's telecommunications numbering plan should be structured. Three more discussion papers were expected to follow.

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