updated 05:45 pm EST, Mon January 17, 2011
MagicJack doesn't collect, pay 911 VoIP fees
The Kanawha County Commission in West Virginia has accused YMAX Communications and its subsidiary, MagicJack, for failing to collect 911 fees from customers and pay the county, The Charleston Gazette reported on Sunday. The matter will be brought in front of the state's Public Service Commission on March 1, during which MagicJack is expected to stand by its arguments. The company says it's not required by law to pay the fees because it's not a voice-over-Internet provider and that it's unable to collect the fees because of how its products are sold.
It's also not an Intenet telephone company as defined by the FCC, MagicJack said. It would need to sell a separate device in order to do this, but instead the company sells a magicIn service for getting a number and receiving calls and a magicOut program for outgoing calls.
In response, a Kanawha County Commission representative said YMAX and MagicJack customers don't have the option of selecting separate services. He was unable to buy only the outgoing call service at Walmart, for example.
The service and device costs $40 for a year's worth of calling, and can be extended for $20 per year. MagicJack customers receive 911 emergency service but don't pay for it. Other residential phone lines and Internet phone service customers pay $3.34 per month, while cell phone customers pay $3 per month.
The PSC staff said MagicJack could have made a request to not pay the 911 fees, but hasn't. Not paying the fee affects Kanawha County's ability to afford emergency services.