With the affordability of wireless devices and VoIP services (Voice over Internet Protocol), more consumers are eliminating the additional expense of the landlines. There are a number of companies that that provide these Internet-based services, and some that are not technically a service, but a piece of hardware. Magic Jack seems to be one of these companies, yet the state of West Virginia disagrees.
According to the Charleston Gazette, Kanawha County in West Virginia has been in a battle with Magic Jack’s refusal to collect and pay 911 fees to fund emergency services. The company claims they are not a VoIP company and says even if they were, they don’t have the ability to collect these taxes, “because of the way its products are sold.” As in most states telephone customers are charged a 911 fee to fund emergency services, whether it is on their landline or wireless account. In West Virginia landline customers pay $3.34 a month, while wireless customers are charged $3 a month.
If Magic Jack is required to start collecting these 911 fees consumers can expect to see price increases across the board, not only for Magic Jack but all VoIP related services. This has been a long standing issue between VoIP providers and state governments for some time and does not seem to be going away anytime soon.
Most consumers are unaware that 911 even works with VoIP services and setup may differ between providers. Once your address is on file with your VoIP service provider, and 911 service is activated, you’re good to go. In contrast, landlines are hard wired and your address and are already on file, therefore 911 services are pretty much automatic.
This dispute will go before the West Virginia state Public Service Commission on March 1, 2011.
We will keep you updated as to the outcome of the Magic Jack case in West Virginia.
[via the Charleston Gazette]