Demand For 'Every' VoIP Service To Be Able To Call 911 Resurfaces

from the i've-fallen-and-i-can't-get-up dept

A bill has been introduced in the Senate that would make it easier (via Broadband Reports) for some VoIP users to make 911 calls by forcing telcos and 911 call centers to accept calls from VoIP providers. Some call centers apparently refused to accept VoIP calls out of a fear of legal liability should a call fail, while some telcos that control 911 call centers weren't accepting connections from VoIP providers. If there's a good reason for them to do that -- beyond just trying to hinder the competition -- it hasn't been elucidated. However, in committee hearings, some people argued the law doesn't go far enough, and said that VoIP providers shouldn't be allowed to provide service if they can't connect 911 calls. This sort of proposal has been made before, and it's extremely problematic as more and more IP-based services offer the ability to communicate via voice. As Microsoft noted when the earlier proposal was floated, if it passed, it could mean they'd have to build the ability to dial 911 into products like the Xbox, Windows Live Messenger and LiveMeeting, all of which provide VoIP services. Taking such a step would be misguided, particularly when bigger problems persist -- like the fact that 40 percent of American counties don't support enhanced 911 calls from cell phones that give a caller's location. That's because the FCC has continually pushed back deadlines for mobile operators to support the service, while local authorities have spent money allocated for E911 upgrades on other things, like winter boots and ballpoint pens. Expanding the availability of 911 services to telephone-replacement VoIP services isn't a bad idea, but there are other, more glaring holes in the 911 system that need to be filled before we start worrying about making sure Xboxes can dial 911.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Rick, Apr 13th, 2007 @ 5:56pm

    I can't believe I am saying this, but...

    The 911 system should be nationailized.

    One standard, one provider. No more headaches.

     

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  2.  
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    Jeff, Apr 13th, 2007 @ 6:29pm

    Re: I can't believe I am saying this, but...

    This would never work, too many local variables, rules and requirements. There are some places that can't even get along between the different disciplines (police/fire/EMS) much less on a national level.

     

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  3.  
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    Craig, Apr 13th, 2007 @ 6:46pm

    Re: Re: I can't believe I am saying this, but...

    Isn't the point of recommending nationalization to bulldoze through the problems with local variables?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2007 @ 7:05pm

    Re: I can't believe I am saying this, but...

    The 911 system should be nationailized.

    One standard, one provider. No more headaches.
    That would mean nationalizing all telecommunications into one government owned agency. That has been tried many times in other countries and it has never worked very well.

     

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  5.  
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    kelly, Apr 13th, 2007 @ 8:28pm

    this is basically BS

    the first link implies vonage can't provide 911 to only 5% of their customer base currently? and any 911 issues vonage is having is due to competitors refusing to provide 911, or 911 centers refusing service because they're worried about liability?

    um, yeah. whoever believes that story should enjoy the melon green sky in their world. that's a complete load of $*&@#.

    the current FCC regs about voip and 911 state that you must provide 911 if you connect to the PSTN for incoming and outgoing calls. skype gets a pass as they separate products (incoming vs outgoing). similar "on-net" VoIP calls not hitting the PSTN would be excluded, so gaming based, IM, or other non traditional voice VoIP platforms would be exempt. there's not much gray area, national voice providers have been getting a free pass as far as I'm concerned, I've seen nothing in the way of enforcement.

    disclosure, i work for a CLEC that provides business class VoIP service, we've been providing e911 (non-mobile) for 4+ years for VoIP based service. someone implying Voinage has been hindered from doing so? give me a break. they've been unwilling to spend the money to do so, and they've made it worse by selling mobile VoIP service. little sympathy from me.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2007 @ 10:12pm

    kelly is right

    i used to work for comcast and for ALL phone and voip 911 MUST BE PROVIDED. even old analog cell phones from 10 years ago can dial 911. it is a must!!! if you were a telephone tech and you left someone down, oh hell, you're done.

     

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  7.  
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    nick, Apr 13th, 2007 @ 10:56pm

    Re: Re: I can't believe I am saying this, but...

    Worked ok for British Telecom, Still does. But then our telecoms system/network is far more advanced :P

     

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  8.  
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    stupd people, Apr 13th, 2007 @ 11:52pm

    Wasted Taxes

    They can ask for a national id but they can't tie the 911 systems together and give them a internet lookup...

    maybe we should expect more for our money than our officials having sex scandals...well I guess if we have movie stars we get drama instead of results....

     

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  9.  
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    MadJo (profile), Apr 14th, 2007 @ 3:13am

    Re: Re: I can't believe I am saying this, but...

    That would mean nationalizing all telecommunications into one government owned agency.

    No it doesn't. Just this 911-service (which should already be government owned). There should be one agency, which is branched out to the different locales.

    We in NL already have just 1 (one) service that does 112 (our 911) (and branched out to local callcenters), and if you call them from a cellphone or such way, you get connected to the central callcenter, they will help you, and send the local emergency service, just like the more local offices do.
    For the emergency-services there is no difference between a 112 call from the central location or from the local one.

     

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  10.  
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    rec9140, Apr 14th, 2007 @ 5:08am

    911

    VOIP does NOT need 911 ability. Its thanks to voncrap and its "broadband 'telephone' company" crap that VOIP is in this mess. Selling to the unwashed masses horde to replace POTS lines with VOIP when they don't understand the hidden dangers ie: call 911 is the CONSUMERS PROBLEM and not the fault of VOIP. I have ZERO NEED to call 911 for emergencies, and if I have an emergency I am not using 911 to call thats for sure. Its YOU the CONSUMER who should be looking at the issues surrounding VOIP as POTS replacement and be aware that 911 dialing doesn't work. Can VOIP carriers setup 911 calling, YES! BUT.... what about the people who pack up their ATA or whatever and relocate to timbuktu, usa for a week etc... I am tired of being everyones nanny and so is the government! Its time to TAKE RESPONSABILITY and be AN ADULT! Decisions have consequences converting from POTS to VOIP has one that could be life and death to you/family.

    I do not support the idea that VOIP carriers need to offer or be mandated to make 911 tandem connetions. Most of us on VOIP could not care less about 911. I have it so I can get numbers in the UK or other US states and have people call at flat rates or free to me with a local number to them.

    For emergencies I have S & W and a radio!

     

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  11.  
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    Republican Gun, Apr 14th, 2007 @ 7:07am

    I would just like to get my skype to work with my cell phone voice mail system. It won't even let me press pound to get to the menu because Skype IS NOT a telephony service. As for 911 and Voip, how does it work when I take my skype phone to detroit for a meeting?

     

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  12.  
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    borg, Apr 14th, 2007 @ 8:09pm

    my solution. get a land line. it may be more expensive, and not as cool. but where i live especially, power isn't reliable. trees fall on lines. got two old fashioned hard wired phones. only the phone line connects to the wall. had to call the power company several times to get power back. cell service isn't' that reliable either.

     

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  13.  
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    Telco Tech Working For The Evil Empire, Apr 14th, 2007 @ 10:12pm

    LAN lines more expensive than a cellular? Where the hell do you live? Here in Cali it's about $15 for basic service and including all taxes. If you are paying about $50 for a LAN with basic service like my mother in Kansas you need to start righting your representatives.

    Hell, I have a 6mb DSL and phone service and it's cheaper than any one cell phone with unlimited whatever from anybody. Nobody can beat that... at least not here. :)

    Comcast here is a joke. Five years behind in the broadband services. Hell they can't even give you good TV at a reasonable price.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2007 @ 1:02am

    Re: 911

    yes, so you're going to use that SW or 2 way, 300 channel radio to put your house out when it catches fire?

    of course it's the VOIP company's fault - all it takes is checking a damned database when somebody calls 911, looking at what area they are in, and then which actual phone number to reroute it to...

     

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  15.  
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    boomhauer (profile), Apr 15th, 2007 @ 8:59pm

    strange thing is..

    Ive called 911 a number of times, from cell phone, and strange thing is they ask what city im calling from/for... i guess that should do the trick for voip as well?

     

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  16.  
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    RandomThoughts, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 7:28am

    The fact is companies like Vonage advertise their VoIP solution as phone service. If you are going to market your product that way, you have a responsibility to make sure it does everything that phone service does.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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