Corman’s Legislation Requires VoIP Providers to Forward 911 Fees to Commonwealth

(HARRISBURG) – Legislation written by Sen. Jake Corman (R-34) that would require voice over the internet (VoIP) providers to forward 911 fees to the Commonwealth, has cleared the Senate and House and is awaiting the Governor’s signature to become law.

In May of 2005, the FCC issued an order requiring interconnected VoIP providers to provide customers with E-911 service. These companies are similar to traditional telephone providers in that they enable customers to receive calls from and terminate calls to the public switched telephone network. Examples of VoIP providers include Vonage, Verizon’s VoiceWing, Comcast’s Digital Voice, Packet8, AT&T’s CallVantage, Broadvoice, Voicepulse and others.

Corman noted that many of these companies already collect fees from customers for providing 911 services. However, Pennsylvania currently has no law that compels VoIP providers to forward those 911 fees back to the Commonwealth like traditional and wireless phone companies must do.

“VoIP companies have been charging their customers fees for 911 services and scantily worded ‘regulatory recovery fees’ for years,” Corman said. “But some keep these fees and do not send them back to the states like their competitors in the landline and wireless industries must do, to the detriment of our county 911 centers. This bill would rectify that discrepancy and put all of the industries on equal footing.”

Corman’s legislation requires all interconnected VoIP companies to charge customers $1 for each line and forward that money to the State Treasurer or directly to the county where the customer is located. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, if the company sends the funds to the state Treasurer, would then provide the fees to the counties where the customers are located.

“In 2003 we responded to counties who said they were losing 911 fees to the wireless industry by placing a charge on each cell phone,” Corman said. “Now we must respond to the increasing market share of the VoIP industry and ensure that they also send 911 fees back to our counties to help pay for the infrastructure and services they use.”

Senator Jake Corman, the Senate Policy Chairman, represents the 34th Senatorial District, which includes Centre, Mifflin, Juniata, Perry and Union Counties.

Don Houser
Phone: 717 787-1377