RTR publishes guidelines for providers of VoIP services

Guidelines contain classification of VoIP services - Numbers for VoIP - Emergency services via VoIP - Additional topics

Press release dated 10 October 2005

With the publication of its guidelines for VoIP service providers, RTR has shown that it recognizes the increasing importance of Voice over IP (VoIP) services and has met the market participants' need for a classification of these services under the existing legal framework.

"VoIP has developed considerably in recent years, both in terms of technology and the number of users. As a growing number of customers report, it is becoming an increasingly viable alternative to conventional voice telephony“, comments Georg Serentschy, Managing Director for Telecommunications at RTR, on the significance of this communications technology. For over two years, RTR has concerned itself with this revolutionary development at the national as well as the international level. Most recently, the regulatory authority published a position paper on VoIP and made it available for public consultation in April 2005.

Guidelines include classification of VoIP services

RTR's recently published guidelines for VoIP service providers primarily target communication service providers and network operators. In conjunction with the simultaneously published "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on VoIP Services" as well as the document published conclude the public consultation process, the guidelines clearly define RTR's position on VoIP issues based on the provisions of the Austrian Telecommunications Act of 2003 (TKG 2003) and the accompanying ordinances.

Regarding the content of the guidelines, one noteworthy point is RTR's classification of publicly provided VoIP services into two main groups: VoIP services (regulated as telephone services) which enable access to the classic telephone network (Class A) and (unregulated) "Internet-only“ VoIP services (Class B).

VoIP numbers

The guidelines also focus on the telephone numbers available for VoIP services: In this context, RTR sees no immediate need for changes in the numbering regime put into effect last year under the Communication Parameters, Fees and Value-Added Services Ordinance (KEM-V): The number ranges (0)720 and (0)780 were adapted / created for innovative services such as VoIP under the KEM-V. Geographical numbers are available to VoIP service providers if the specific conditions for use (i.e., addressing of a specific network termination point at a fixed location) are fulfilled.

Emergency call services via VoIP

A separate chapter deals with VoIP access to emergency services; RTR clearly states that this service component is mandatory for all providers of public telephone services (VoIP Class A).

Additional topics

In line with the classification of VoIP services, the guidelines explain the resulting requirements in connection with general approvals for service providers. In addition, the guidelines contain brief commentaries on the topics of monitoring, interconnection and competition issues with respect to VoIP services. One issue which is explicitly not covered is the question of how VoIP services are to be valued on the relevant telephone markets. This question will be answered in the course of the current revision of the Telecommunications Markets Ordinance of 2003 (TKMVO 2003); a draft of the amendment should be made available for public consultation by the end of the year.