The FCC today required providers of “interconnected VOIP” service — essentially, voice-over-Internet service to and from ordinary telephone numbers — to contribute to the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund and to make TRS available to subscribers. Dialing 711 on a TRS-equipped system connects the caller to a live operator equipped with a TTY device, thus enabling communications between a person using an ordinary telephone and a speech- or hearing-impaired person using TTY.

This step continues the FCC’s ongoing process of bringing interconnected VOIP under the same regulations as conventional landline telephone service, on the theory that the two are largely interchangeable. Interconnected VOIP was earlier made subject to regulations relating to CALEA (for law enforcement wiretaps), E-911 (to locate emergency callers), Customer Proprietary Network Information (for privacy), and the Universal Service Fund.

The FCC order is at this link.