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New rules came into effect this week that will allow VoIP Services to charge customers for use of the service based on geographic areas.

ACMA (the Australian Communications and Media Authority) said it has changed the geographic numbering rules, such as those with 02, 03 or 08 area codes, which will now be issued to customers using outbound VoIP services.

The move removes limitations on outbound only services (including VoIP) and provides a framework governing the use of geographic numbers when used for services outside their normal area.

‘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, Mr. Richard Bean.

‘The implementation of these amendments represents a small but important step in regulatory transition for VoIP and other converged services. It will support innovation in the new telecommunications services being offered to Australian consumers,’ he said.

While VoIP services have been available in Australia for some time, the new rules give VoIP providers more certainty about how numbers can be used and what information they must provide to consumers if the geographic numbers are issued to customers out of area.

ACMA is currently examining a range of emerging numbering issues and has already released two issues papers, most recently customer location information and numbering data.

 

Increasing pressures on numbering include the dominace of mobile phones and the move by consumers  to move away from fixed lines to dynamic services.

The growth of IP-based voice services, and widespread use of alternative communications which don’t use numbering at all, including chat and social network services, is having an impact on location data required by emergency services.

One of ACMA’s challenges is in finding out how the numbering plan could be used to provide accurate and dynamic location information to emergency services in an all-IP environment.

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