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Monday, September 26, 2016

Providers of home voice phone service have obligations

Telephone service providers replacing their copper networks with fiber—a transition known as "IP" or "tech" transition—must comply with rules designed by the Federal Communications Commission to protect customers. The rules, which went into effect in March 2016, focus on:

  • Ensuring reliable backup power
  • Protecting consumers who must be informed about their choices
  • Providing consumers options in preserving competition where it exists today

1) Backup power: Your home telephone service may not work during power outages. If your phone company is replacing some or all of the copper wires that bring service to your home, you must be given the option to buy a battery for backup power. You must also be told what would happen if you don't buy a backup battery. If you are receiving voice service through the internet, your provider must give you this information. You can buy a battery from your phone company or another seller, or purchase another source of backup power—such as an uninterruptible power supply or generator—to provide power for your home phone service if an outage occurs.

2) Consumer protection: Service providers must directly notify residential customers of plans to retire the part of the copper networks that extend to the consumers' premises at least three months in advance. Non-residential retail customers must be notified least six months in advance.

3) Preserving competition: Carriers are required to provide access to their new networks to wholesalers and wholesaler/competitive retailers at reasonably comparable terms and conditions.