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Does the TCPA Apply to VoIP Telephone Services?

 

If you’re working with text message marketing, or any form of telemarketing in general, you’re most likely aware of Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol, or VoIP. VoIP is the internet-based communication system that is growing in popularity and usage. But you may be wondering: how does VoIP interact with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the law that regulates telemarketing? Does the TCPA apply to VoIP telephone services and telephone numbers? Are VoIP telephone services any different from standard phone calls and text messaging?

 

Understanding VoIP Telephone Services

VoIP services do not use standard land lines or other infrastructure like normal phones do. They use internet services and an IP protocol, which means that VoIP systems might not actually mirror a traditional residential phone.

As a digital service, there are a number of functionalities and features with VoIP that normal phones just don’t have. For example, with VoIP there could be an option to simultaneously ring multiple phones when a call comes in. Or perhaps distinguish a home, work, and cell phone number individually, and direct calls to each of them in some sequence or strategy. These systems are more complicated than standard phones.

 

Does the TCPA Apply to VoIP Telephone Services?

While TCPA compliance with VoIP services was undefined for a long time, a landmark decision was passed in August 2019. The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a VoIP service, or a hybrid service, that can route calls through cellular networks, is subject to the same TCPA regulations that normal cellular networks are subject to.

This is extremely important to consider, especially as VoIP services and hybrid services become more common. Eventually the gap between cellular networks and VoIP services will be so thin as to not matter, which would then result in the TCPA being fully expanded to include VoIP.

This is why we always encourage clients to work with an SMS provider who understands and follows TCPA regulations. The laws around TCPA compliance are interpreted differently in each individual court. Having a team of trusted experts to guide you through the process will save you money (and headaches) in the long run.

We hope this TCPA video was helpful to you! To learn more about text message marketing and the TCPA, check out our free TCPA Text Messaging Survival Guide.