As has been widely expected (no one in DC can keep a secret, apparently), the FCC is now mandating that all "telephone replacement" VoIP systems must have fully functional 911 service in 120 days (plus a few days, as the 120 doesn't go into effect until the "official" ruling comes out in a few days). There is a lot of grandstanding on this issue as well, as the Senate is working on a bill requiring this as well and there have been all those lawsuits over the past few months on this same issue. The thing is, none of these VoIP providers were trying to avoid offering 911 service. In many cases, the problem was that the Baby Bells were making it very difficult to do so -- and all parties should have been working on a standardized way to do 911 service. However, what's odd about this ruling is the time frame. When the government mandated that mobile phone providers had to offer E911 service, they gave them lots of time to figure out all the details. However, when it comes to VoIP providers: 120 days or else. Yes, having better 911 service would be a good thing, but the short deadline seems a bit extreme and unfair to many of the smaller VoIP providers. The ruling also leaves companies like Skype out of the requirement, but as all of these VoIP providers start to blur the lines (for example, Skype is connecting further and further into the traditional phone system) how is the FCC going to keep track of these rules and who qualifies for them? Once again, this seems like reactive FCC policy making (especially on a hot potato issue) rather than really coming out with a comprehensive policy on such things -- and that's only going to lead to further trouble down the line.
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