Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

FCC Gives Short Deadline For VoIP 911

from the fix-it.--now. dept

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.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • identicon
    Chris, 19 May 2005 @ 10:27am

    No Subject Given

    I agree this FCC ruling isn't exactly fair for many VoIP providers. How about some comments on the following paragraph in the release:
    "The incumbent LECs are required to provide access to their E911 networks to any requesting telecommunications carrier. They must continue to provide access to trunks, selective routers, and E911 databases to competing carriers. The Commission will closely monitor this obligation."
    What is the underlying meaning of "telecommunications carrier" and "competing carriers"?

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

  • identicon
    Sven Kamphuis, 16 Oct 2005 @ 5:29am

    Commie totalitarian government (usa) bugging voip

    Setting up access to 911 or any other emergency number world wide is just a matter of having a few local phonelines in that country's public telephone network and a box with some outgoing pstn/isdn interfaces.

    then creating some number routing entries in your numbering plan to direct calls to there, and possibly log them in case someone abuses it at the device itself (this can even be a single computer colocated at some other company).

    shouldn't really take more than a few hours to set up on most more or less standardized voip networks.

    911 itself could help speed this up by offering an IP interface with the most often used codecs instead of those dinosaur like old telephone connections to voip providers to direct the calls to. (which would even save them a box and a few phone lines in the countries that complain that the voip providers don't provide acccess to their emergency numbers)

    So 120 days should be more than enough..

    Furthermore a lot of phone and other communcations networks were never intended as a 'phone replacement' and after all, it's not up to governments to decide what services are and are not to be provided by 'telecommunications' providers.

    there are no 911 services available on most radio networks, dedicated connections (leased lines), the government's own military phone networks, in-plant lines, internal phone lines, etc, all of which could be classified as a 'phone replacement service' so why VoiP networks should be bugged by govts and all those others not beats me..

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

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.