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Trouble for Skype as ACMA moves to mandate 000 access from VoIP services

Skype might have to modify its softphone for Australian users in order to comply with soon to be-mandatory requirements to provide free access to Australia's 000 and 106 emergency numbers.

The ACMA is moving to make free access to these numbers (106 is for the hearing impaired) mandatory for any VoIP service offered in Australia that provides access to the PSTN.

The ACMA has issued a draft of proposed changes to the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2002 along with a consultation paper for industry comment.  The moves follow recommendations of a report Policy and Regulation Relating to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Services released by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) in November 2005.

Indigenous VoIP service providers should have little difficulty in complying, and most already do offer 000 access. However for a global organisation like Skype compliance would me more problematic.

It would be required to provide access without any country code prefix, and it would be required to provide access even if the user's Skype credit had dropped to zero. At present the Skype website FAQ contains the statement: "Can I call an emergency number (e.g. 112, 211, 999, 911)? No, you cannot use Skype to call any emergency services."

iTWire has sought comment from Skype and will update this article if and when it becomes available.


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