Vonage: FCC? We Don't Have To Pay Attention To Them, Do We?

from the rules-are-for-suckers! dept

So, the VoIP E911 deadline came and went without much of a peep from the FCC. This really isn’t that surprising. While the initial mandate from the FCC was that after November 28th all VoIP customers needed to have working E911 service, the FCC has continually backed down on various aspects of the plan. VoIP providers no longer needed to cut off those customers who didn’t manually sign off on the fact that VoIP 911 worked differently than E911. Then, after a bunch of VoIP providers made it clear there was no way they could possibly provide E911 service to everyone by November 28th, the FCC finally agreed that customers without it wouldn’t be cut off at all — but this was based on one condition: providers could no longer sign up any new customers without giving them E911. On the 28th, VoIP providers needed to hand in their homework and tell the FCC how far they had gotten. One reason the FCC probably hasn’t responded is they’re reviewing all the information submitted. One of the things they’ll notice is that, despite earlier promises from Vonage that offering E911 service would be a snap, it turns out that only about one-quarter of their customers have it. So, what about that condition to stop offering non-E911 service to new customers? Vonage has said flat out that they plan to ignore it: “Land-line and wireless companies are selling to customers without the availability of E911, and we are going to continue marketing and selling until we get further guidance from the FCC.” Mentioning wireless companies is a smart tactic, as the FCC has been quite the pushover when it comes to E911 service for mobile phones, rolling back the deadline there by years, and still seeing many operators ignore it completely. Of course, all this is really highlighting is how silly it was for the FCC to have such a knee-jerk reaction on the VoIP 911 issue.

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Comments on “Vonage: FCC? We Don't Have To Pay Attention To Them, Do We?”

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Tim Howland (user link) says:

It wasn't silly, it was political

The FCC was hassling the VOIP providers because they don’t have anywhere near as many slush funds and political lobbiests running around. Telcos have bought and sold their preferred legislation for years, and this was always a transparent attempt to slow VOIP down. Mentioning the double standard of wireless support certainly was a brilliant stroke- the big wireless companies are now owned by telcos, after all- and the FCC doesn’t want anyone messing with the golden goose.

It’s clear from even a cursory look at the FCC’s behavior with regard to Infinity Broadcasting that they have become a wholly political organization. And it’s also clear that packet switched technologies have reduced the scarcity argument that created the FCC in the first place- the FCC is losing its mandate for technical reasons, and can only continue to exist as long as it is a tool of deep-pocketed corporations and political pressure groups.

David (user link) says:

FCC placing business ahead of consumer

Of course, all this is really highlighting is how silly it was for the FCC to have such a knee-jerk reaction on the VoIP 911 issue.
Yes, it was silly, but the FCC’s lack of enforcement for implimenting enhanced 911 service for wireless phones (or landlines for that matter) is the real story here and but a tip of the iceberg. The FCC has been placing business special interests above the protection of the consumer for a long time. Now, I’m not naive enough to thing the FCC’s primary goal is to protect consumer interests in communication matters but I would say that the slow penetration of E911 with phone service of all kinds is a good example of the steady shift we have seen in federal regulation that places short term commercial interests ahead of what would be best for the country in the long run. These days this same attitude is prevalent in many areas of government, not the lease of which is the current energy situation we now all have to deal with (a situation brought about by decades of short-sighted energy policies that catered to Big Oil over the long term needs of the country). As well as energy and communications, the same subtle yet relentless pro-business shift can be seen in other areas such as health and pharmaceuticals, wages and pensions, pollution, privacy, fair use, on and on and on. It has gotten so bad that I, who have voted Republican on most issues for the last 35 years, now find myself more likely voting Democrat just to vote against any more delay in addressing these serious issues.
The E911 issue for VoIP vs. wireless carriers vs. landlines is but a small piece of a much larger problem in the practical functioning of the federal government. Lincoln once described the federal government as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. I would suggest that catch phrase needs to be updated for today “government of a few people, by a few people, and for a few people, just be sure to bring cash.”
Thank’s for the forum to rant about government ineffectiveness (corruption, conspiracy, however you want to label it).

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