Summary of the CALEA NPRM's Declaratory Ruling Regarding Push To Talk Services
August 9, 2004. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) CALEA NPRM [100 pages in PDF], released on August 9, 2004 contains a declaratory ruling that push to talk services are subject to CALEA requirements.
The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) first addresses Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers, or cellular providers. The NPRM states that "CMRS carrier offerings of push-to-talk service that are offered in conjunction with interconnected service to the PSTN, but may use different technologies, are subject to CALEA requirements." (See, NPRM at Paragraph 146.) But, if the push to talk service does not enable connection to someone on the public switched telephone network (PSTN), then it is not subject to CALEA requirements.
The NPRM continues that "We find that whether a CMRS carrier's push-to-talk service offering is subject to CALEA depends on the regulatory definition and functional characteristics of that service and not on the particular technology the carrier chooses to apply in offering it. Therefore, we conclude that regardless of what newer technologies a CMRS carrier may use in its offering of push-to-talk ``dispatch service,´´ it continues to be subject to the requirements of CALEA, if the required definitional element for CMRS service is met, i.e., the delivery of the push-to-talk service is offered in conjunction with interconnected service to the PSTN."
Then the NPRM adds this. "We qualify this approach, however, recognizing that what has been termed ``private dispatch services´´ may be developed or implemented in a manner that raises issues pertaining to the Substantial Replacement Provision. For example, an entity might deploy a seemingly ``private´´ or ``closed´´ push-to-talk services that may satisfy all three prongs of the Substantial Replacement Provision such that this service would be subject to CALEA." (See, NPRM at Paragraph 151.)
There is also a footnote to this paragraph. It provides, in part, "For
instance, some wireless push-to-talk offerings being developed will rely on
Wi-Fi, combined with VoIP, and unlike CMRS-based push-to-talk that provides the
capability of interconnecting to the local exchange network, would not
interconnect to the PSTN." (See, NPRM at Footnote 348.)