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VoIP Service Providers Resource

VoIP Service Providers Resource brings you the latest and greatest information about this new emerging technology.

VoIP 911 Calls

VoIP 911 calls are an area of confusion right now. VoIP 911 calls (or E911 for emergency 911 calls) are offered by some VoIP services, but not others at the present. This will soon change. The FCC has order that VoIP 911 calls must be standard, not optional by September 2005. According to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, "Anyone who dials 911 has a reasonable expectation that he or she will be connected to an emergency operator."

This means several things. First, VoIP call providers will now have to make it mandatory that customers who sign up for service provide a location for themselves. Second, VoIP call providers will also have to scale back some of the "nomadic" features that have attracted people to VoIP in the first place.

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The FCC also ordered the four big U.S. local telephone companies (Baby Bells) to give access to the VoIP service providers to emergency 911 services. Leading VoIP service provider, Vonage has been in negotiations with SBC, Bell South and Verizon concerning gaining access to the local provider's emergency network services.


Vonage is currently defending lawsuits from Connecticut and Texas involving its lack of VoIP 911 call service. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in March 2005, filed suit against Vonage for what he called deceptive business practices. Abbott cited a case where burglars broke into a home and a child tried to call 911 through Vonage but was unsuccessful primarily because the family had not signed up for 911 service when prompted by Vonage. The FCC wishes to take the decision-making process out of the consumer's hands and make 911 call service mandatory for all types of phone service, Internet, land, cellular or otherwise.

An article in PC World states, "The FCC order does not include exemptions for rural service and mobile devices. Instead, it requires VoIP carriers to allow customers to change their location information so that 911 works wherever they take their VoIP phones, said FCC spokesman Mark Wigfield. The FCC plans to work on a future order establishing a method for customers to change their locations and have E911 work without having to report their new location, he said."

The recent FCC ruling show that VoIP is gaining momentum and heading for the mainstream soon. For this to happen, the FCC has to balance the consumer need for VoIP 911 calls against over-reaching regulation that may have a squelching effect on this emerging industry. Pressured by the Baby Bells, cell phone corporations, VoIP companies, consumer advocate groups and others, the FCC is in a very tenuous position of cautiously regulating what has so far gone unregulated, the Internet.

August 29, 2005 is the first FCC deadline concerning VoIP service providers informing 100-percent of their customers of the shortcomings of e911 service. As many as 31,000 Vonage customers may find themselves cut-off from VoIP service altogether because of the FCC mandate.

September 29, 2005: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said it would give VoIP providers more time to receive acknowledgements from customers if their network doesn’t provide access to 911 emergency lines.

The FCC said it won’t begin enforcing the rule until October 31, instead of this Wednesday, but only if the VoIP providers submit a status report by October 25. Many VoIP providers have already submitted reports, and the FCC has felt encouraged so far by the level of compliance.



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