FCC issues ruling on ringless voicemail
The FCC issued a declaratory ruling on ringless voicemail. Here’s what happened.
The Commission’s ruling found that ringless voicemails:
- Are calls
- Are subject to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
- To a wireless phone require consumer consent.
A company called All About the Message, LLC (AATM) filed a petition with the FCC on March 31, 2017, asking the Commission to find that delivery of a voicemail message directly to a consumer’s cell phone voicemail is not covered by the TCPA. They argued that a ringless voicemail is not a call.
The FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau sought comment. They received over 8,000 comments and replies. Almost all were opposed to AATM’s petition.
On June 20, 2017, AATM filed a letter seeking the withdrawal of its petition. Because of this petition’s interest, the FCC left the issue open.
Meanwhile, many ringless voicemail providers entered the market. Most echoed AATM’s claim that ringless voicemail messages aren’t calls and therefore aren’t covered by the TCPA.
What’s ringless voicemail?
Also called voicemail drop and server-to-server communication, ringless voicemail is a prerecorded message that is dropped directly into a subscriber’s voicemail. According to Arbeit Software, ringless voicemail software does this by either:
- Calling a number twice in rapid succession. The first call will ring, while the second call will go to voicemail. The software hangs up the first call before it rings, while the second call leaves the prerecorded message in the called party’s voicemail.
- Calling a number provided by a carrier to gain direct access to voicemail. The software calls this number, then dials directly to the consumer’s voicemail and drops the prerecorded voicemail message.
Is this the end of ringless voicemail?
Ringless voicemail technology can still be used, but since these are calls, telemarketing rules apply.
It will be interesting to follow the impact this ruling will have on the demand for ringless voicemail services.
For more information, see the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling.
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