Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
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Letter

Ottawa, 25 May 2012

File No.:  8663-C12-201015470

BY E-MAIL

Mr. Rami Abboud
President and CEO
LKMR Inc.
1500 Upper Middle Rd.
Unit 3
P.O. Box 76005
Oakville, Ontario
L6M 3H5
rami@smallbusinessvoip.ca

Re:   Obligations of local VoIP service providers with respect to 9-1-1 emergency service and registration as a reseller

Dear Mr. Abboud:

Commission staff notes that on 19 April 2012, LKMR Inc. (LKMR) submitted its proposed customer notification texts with respect to its local VoIP 9-1-1 emergency service.  Commission staff also notes that LKMR has registered with the Commission as a reseller of telecommunications services.  Commission staff acknowledges and appreciates LKMR’s efforts to comply with the 9-1-1 and registration obligations of local VoIP service providers.

LKMR is requested to provide to the Commission the following:

a) Indicate1

i)  the 9-1-1 answering bureau that the company employs,

ii)  the LEC or reseller from which the company obtains its customers’ telephone numbers and other network services that enable it to offer VoIP services.

Contact names, telephone numbers, and email addresses are to be provided for each company identified.

b) A copy of the proposed telephone set warning sticker, or the text that would appear on the sticker, indicating (i) that when making 9-1-1 calls customers must be prepared to provide their present address/location, and (ii) where to find additional information regarding VoIP 9-1-1 service.

c) A copy of the company’s terms of service, including a full description of LKMR’s limitation of liability with respect to VoIP 9-1-1 service.

LKMR is requested to file the additional information requested above for Commission review by 25 June 2012.

The company’s letter is to indicate the reference number noted above with the subject title “Obligations of local VoIP service providers with respect to 9-1-1 emergency service and registration as a reseller”.  The letter should be submitted using the online service on the Commission’s website (www.crtc.gc.ca).  Click on the “Telecommunications Sector”, then “Submit a telecom-related document online” and select the “other” option.  Address your submission to:

John Traversy
Secretary General
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N2

Yours sincerely,

Original signed by

Michel Murray
Director, Decisions and Operations
Telecommunications

c.c.:  M. Holmes, CRTC, (819) 953-5123, michael.holmes@crtc.gc.ca

Attach.

Appendix

List of 9-1-1 obligations applicable to local VoIP service providers, based on determinations made in Telecom Decisions 2005-21, 2005-61, and 2007-44, and in Telecom Regulatory Policy 2011-426

i. Provide 9-1-1 service:

Canadian carriers offering fixed local VoIP services, where the end-user is assigned an NPA-NXX native to any of the local exchanges within the region covered by the customer’s serving PSAP, are to provide 9-1-1/E9-1-1 [Enhanced 9-1-1] service, where it is available from the ILEC [incumbent local exchange carrier].  This support is to include provisioning end-user information in the ALI [Automatic Location Information] database associated with the end-user’s serving PSAP, and routing 9-1-1 calls, along with ANI [automatic number identification] and ALI data, to the correct PSAP in a manner that is compatible with the PSAP’s systems.  Call control features are to be supported to the extent technically feasible.  (Source: paragraph 52 of Telecom Decision 2005-21)

All Canadian carriers offering local VoIP service are to use 0-ECRS [zero-dialed emergency call routing service] as the interim solution to route fixed/non-native and nomadic VoIP 9-1-1 calls to the PSAPs, pending the development and implementation of a long-term fixed/non-native and nomadic VoIP E9-1-1 solution.  (Source: paragraph 60 of Telecom Decision 2007-44)

The Commission directs VSPs [nomadic and fixed/non-native VoIP service providers] to implement the capability to provide their VSP operators with a 9-1-1 caller’s telephone number by 14 April 2012, and to require their VSP operators to use the provided telephone number as a last resort to re-establish contact with a 9-1-1 caller, when a

9-1-1 call is disconnected before the caller’s location has been determined.  (Source: paragraph 17 of Telecom Regulatory Policy 2011-426)

ii. Provide customer notifications:

All Canadian carriers offering local VoIP services are to provide initial customer notification, regarding any limitations that may exist with respect to 9-1-1/E9-1-1 service, before service commencement.  This information is to be made available through all of the following: marketing material used for television, radio and printed media, the terms and conditions of service, on-line material, customer service representatives, service contracts and starter kits.  (Source: paragraph 93 of Telecom Decision 2005-21)

All Canadian carriers offering local VoIP service are to provide on-going customer notification during service provision through all of the following: marketing material used for television, radio and printed media, the terms and conditions of service, on-line material, customer service representatives, warning stickers affixed to telephone sets and billing inserts.  (Source: paragraph 94 of Telecom Decision 2005-21)

In cases where there are limitations on VoIP 9-1-1/E9-1-1 service, Canadian carriers offering local VoIP services are to obtain, prior to commencement of service, the customer’s express consent, by which the customer acknowledges his/her understanding of the 9-1-1/E9-1-1 service limitations, using one of the methods approved in Telecom Decision 2005-15.  To ensure that information regarding limitations on 9-1-1/E9-1-1 service is accessible to persons with visual disabilities, all customer notification, and any printed information used to secure the express customer consent, must be provided in alternative formats (e.g. Braille and large print), upon request.  Furthermore, to ensure that such documentation is accessible to persons with cognitive disabilities, local VoIP service providers are required, at a minimum, to explain it, upon request.  (Source: paragraph 98 of Telecom Decision 2005-21)

All Canadian carriers offering local VoIP service are to abide by the customer notification requirements set out in the Report [ESWG Consensus Report
ESRE039D - Customer Notification Issues re: 9-1-1 calls on VoIP, 21 July 2005].  (Source: paragraph 14 of Telecom Decision 2005-61)

Canadian carriers offering local VoIP service are to submit copies of their customer notifications concerning the availability, characteristics, and limitations of their
9-1-1/E9-1-1 service for review by the Commission, prior to offering service.  
(Source: paragraph 16 of Telecom Decision 2005-61)

The proposed texts must adhere to the requirements set out in the Report and in the following paragraphs: (Source: paragraph 15 of Telecom Decision 2005-61)

Where the Report recommends that the information contained in the notifications be “clearly visible,” the Commission clarifies that the text must be easily legible.  Local VoIP service providers are to avoid the unnecessary use of upper case letters, and avoid narrow spacing, and anything that may impede the readability of the text.

The font size of the text of notifications used for television, print, and on-line media should be, at a minimum, the same as the main text in the marketing material.  With respect to the text contained in items such as, but not limited to, terms and conditions of service, website materials, service contracts, starter kits, installation software and billing inserts, the Commission determines that local VoIP service providers must use 12 point font, at a minimum.

In addition to ensuring that the language for customer notification in both audio and print marketing materials is simple and user-friendly, local VoIP service providers must ensure that their message is succinct.  Moreover, with respect to audio notifications used for television and radio, the message must be easily audible.  (Source: paragraphs 11 to 13 of Telecom Decision 2005-61)

iii. Register with the Commission (although this is not strictly a 9-1-1 obligation, it is a requirement for providing VoIP local service):

Accordingly, the Commission directs that all local VoIP service providers that are not operating as Canadian carriers are to register with the Commission as resellers, as a condition of obtaining services from a Canadian carrier or other TSP.  (Source: paragraph 204 of Telecom Decision 2005-28)

Attachment

SUGGESTED STARTER KIT NOTIFICATIONS

External Starter Kit Notification:

On the outside of the starter kit, (company name) will place the following customer notification in English/French (as appropriate):

VoIP 9-1-1 emergency service is different than traditional telephone 9-1-1 services.  See enclosed documents for further important details.

Inside Starter Kit:

Inside the starter kit, (company name) will include documentation/user tips with the following text in English/French (as appropriate):

IMPORTANT 9-1-1 INFORMATION

We want to make sure that you are aware of important differences in the way 9-1-1 service operates with a VoIP phone when compared with traditional telephone service.  Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

Differences between traditional 9-1-1 service and VoIP phone 9-1-1.

With traditional phone services, your 9-1-1 call is sent directly to the nearest emergency response centre.  With VoIP phone service, your 9-1-1 call is forwarded to a third-party service provider that will automatically or manually route your call to the emergency response centre.

Remember to verify your location.

Because you can move your VoIP phone between locations and because, for technical reasons, the emergency operator may not have your name, location or contact information available, you must immediately inform the emergency operator of your location and contact particulars any time you call 9-1-1.  Do not risk sending police or ambulance services to the wrong location.

Be prepared during any service interruption.

VoIP phone service depends not only on your continued subscription (and payment) for the service, but also on Internet connectivity and power to function.  In the event of power, network, or Internet outages (including congestion), or if your service is disconnected or suspended due to non-payment, you may experience a failure, disruption or delay in your 9-1-1 service.  We recommend that you keep an alternative phone service (such as a cellular telephone) handy to increase the reliability of your access to emergency services during any service interruption.

Do not disconnect.

Until you are told to do so by an emergency dispatcher, do not disconnect your 9-1-1 call.  If you are inadvertently disconnected, call back immediately.

Keep your service address up to date.

(Company name) will attempt to provide the emergency operator with your service address, so please ensure that your information on file with us is always accurate and updated.  If you do not do this (for example, if you are unable to speak during a 9-1-1 call), the emergency operator may assume that you are calling from the last registered address.

Inform other users.

You must notify members of your household and other potential users of your VoIP phone service of the nature and limitations of 9-1-1 emergency calls.  To make this easier, attach the included stickers in a visible location on your telephone sets.

 

Limitations of Liability.

(Company name)’s terms of service limit and disclaim liability related to VoIP 9-1-1 service, so please read these carefully.

For a complete description of our VoIP 9-1-1 service, please see (company name)’s terms of service at www.company.name.website.ca

Telephone Set Stickers Inside Starter Kit:

Inside the starter kit, (company name) will include telephone set warning stickers with the following text:

ATTENTION

When dialling 9-1-1, be prepared to provide your address/location.
For more details visit www.company.name.website.ca

The URL indicated on the warning sticker goes to (company name)’s website, on which each page will contain a link to (company name)’s Terms of Service and other important notification items.

SUGGESTED MARKETING / POINT OF SALE NOTIFICATIONS

Printed Marketing Materials:

For its printed marketing materials, (company name) intends to use the following customer notification texts (examples) depending on the nature of the advertisement or promotion:

VoIP phone emergency 9-1-1 features differ from traditional 9-1-1 services.  See sales representative for further details.

VoIP phone emergency 9-1-1 features differ from traditional 9-1-1 services.  Visit www.company.name.website.ca for more information.

Note: Notifications similar to those above are also required in the event a local VoIP service provider is making use of other forms of advertising and or promotion such as with television, radio, or other forms of media.

Customer Activation:

When customers call (company name) to request activation of their VoIP service, (company name)’s representative will notify them of the documents in the starter kit and how the VoIP emergency 9-1-1 services differ from traditional 9-1-1 services.  Once their VoIP service is ready to be activated, customers will, through the Internet, log onto their account management site to activate their 9-1-1 service.  As part of the activation process, text similar to the printed 9-1-1 documents will be presented to the customers and the customers will be presented with the following in English/French (as appropriate) and their selections will be captured:

I agree that I have read and understand the 9-1-1 service limitations described above.

[link: "I Agree" (to proceed with activation)]
[link: "I Do Not Agree" (to cancel activation)]

Customer Service/Point of Sales:

(Company name)’s customer service and sales representatives will be fully versed in the contents of the VoIP 9-1-1 documents for discussion with potential customers.

On-Line:

On-line marketing on (company name)’s website will contain a link to its Terms of Service prefaced with the following text:

VoIP phone emergency 9-1-1 features differ from traditional 9-1-1 emergency services.  Visit [link] [www.company.name.website.ca] for more information

SUGGESTED TERMS OF SERVICE NOTIFICATIONS

THIS SECTION CONTAINS IMPORTANT PROVISIONS, INCLUDING THOSE

REGARDING 9-1-1 SERVICE

Description: VoIP services allow you to make or receive telephone calls over the Internet to or from the public switched telephone network.  The nature of VoIP telephone calls, while appearing similar to traditional telephone calling services, create unique limitations and circumstances, and you acknowledge and agree that differences exist between traditional telephone service and VoIP telephone services, including the lack of traditional 9-1-1 emergency services.

9-1-1 service: Because of the unique nature of VoIP telephone calls, emergency calls to 9-1-1 through your VoIP service will be handled differently than traditional phone service.  The following provisions describe the differences and limitations of 9-1-1 emergency calls, and you hereby acknowledge and understand the differences between traditional 9-1-1 service and VoIP calls with respect to 9-1-1 calls placed to emergency services from your account as described below.

Placing 9-1-1 calls: When you make a 9-1-1 emergency call, the VoIP service will attempt to automatically route your 9-1-1 call through a third-party service provider to the Public Safety Answering Point (“PSAP”) corresponding to your address of record on your account.  However, due to the limitations of the VoIP telephone services, your
9-1-1 call may be routed to a different location than that which would be used for traditional 9-1-1 dialling.  For example, your call may be forwarded to a third-party specialized call centre that handles emergency calls.  This call centre is different from the PSAP that would answer a traditional 9-1-1 call which has automatically generated your address information, and consequently, you may be required to provide your name, address, and telephone number to the call centre.

How your information is provided: The VoIP service will attempt to automatically provide the PSAP dispatcher or emergency service operator with the name, address and telephone number associated with your account.  However, for technical reasons, the dispatcher receiving the call may not be able to capture or retain your name, phone number or physical location.  Therefore, when making a 9-1-1 emergency call, you must immediately inform the dispatcher of your location (or the location of the emergency, if different).  If you are unable to speak, the dispatcher may not be able to locate you if your location information is not up to date.

Correctness of information: You are responsible for providing, maintaining, and updating correct contact information (including name, residential address and telephone number) with your account.  If you do not correctly identify the actual location where you are located, or if your account information has recently changed or has otherwise not been updated, 9-1-1 calls may be misdirected to an incorrect emergency response site.

Disconnections: You must not disconnect the 9-1-1 emergency call until told to do so by the dispatcher, as the dispatcher may not have your number or contact information.  If you are inadvertently disconnected, you must call back immediately.

Connection time: For technical reasons, including network congestion, it is possible that a 9-1-1 emergency call will produce a busy signal or will take longer to connect when compared with traditional 9-1-1 calls.

9-1-1 calls may not function: For technical reasons, the functionality of 9-1-1 VoIP emergency calls may cease or be curtailed in various circumstances, including but not limited to:

Failure of service or your service access device - if your system access equipment fails or is not configured correctly, or if your VoIP service is not functioning correctly for any reason, including power outages, VoIP service outage, suspension or disconnection of your service due to billing issues, network or Internet congestion, or network or Internet outage in the event of a power, network or Internet outage; you may need to reset or reconfigure the system access equipment before being able to use the VoIP service, including for 9-1-1 emergency calls; and changing locations - if you move your system access equipment to a location other than that described in your account information or otherwise on record with (company name).

Alternate services: If you are not comfortable with the limitations of 9-1-1 emergency calls, (company name) recommends that you terminate the VoIP services or consider an alternate means for accessing traditional 9-1-1 emergency services.

Inform other users: You are responsible for notifying, and you agree to notify, any user or potential users of your VoIP services of the nature and limitations of 9-1-1 emergency calls on the VoIP services as described herein.

Liability: Customers are advised to review this section with respect to (company name)’s limitations of liability (as appropriate to each company).

[1] The company may file certain information in confidence if the information falls into a category listed in subsection 39(1) of the Telecommunications Act.  Essentially, the company can file two versions of its reply: one containing the confidential information and the word “Confidential” clearly marked on the letter; and another for the public record, in which the confidential information is omitted and replaced by a “#” sign.  In general, confidential information is not released on the public record to protect proprietary information, and only the non-confidential version is posted on the Commission’s website.  For more information on the process for filing information in confidence with the Commission, see Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin CRTC 2010-961, available on the Commission’s website at http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2010/2010-961.htm.