VoIP providers to get full 911 access with bill's passagge
06/18/2008 by David Chartier, Staff Writer
@ Ars Technica
VoIP has had its ups and downs when it comes to accessing 911 emergency services, and some incumbent telcos haven't made things easier for VoIP providers like Vonage. Finally, the US Senate has passed legislation that requires 911 network operators to allow VoIP customers to get through, no matter what service they're calling from.
OKs "enhanced" 911 VoIP requirements
After a woman blamed Vonage for not connecting her to 911 and the resulting death of her baby in 2005, the FCC gave VoIP providers a 120-day ultimatum to implement 911 service. At first the companies had trouble meeting the deadline, but today VoIP providers boast that more than 97 percent of their customers have E911 (Enhanced 911) service. In February this year, the Senate passed legislation that requires all VoIP providers to supply their customers with E911 service, which properly transmits a callback number and address to 911 dispatch centers.
Despite this legislation
and the VoIP industry's reports of E911 access
for nearly all customers, we still see claims
from VoIP providers that the incumbent telcos
who operate the proprietary 911 system have
been deliberately blocking VoIP access in order
to stifle competition.
Those days may
soon be over with the Senate's passage of the
New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement
Act. With the House having passed the legislation
as well, it's now expected to be signed into
In addition to leveling
the 911 access, the legislation gives dispatch
centers liability protection when handling VoIP
calls. An amendment added by Sen. Ted Stevens
(R-AK), the bill will also require the US government
to develop next-generation 911 capabilities and
extend the range of these networks to the rural
areas that are not yet endowed with E911.