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E911 News!

VoIP providers to get full 911 access with bill's passagge

Posted on: 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.

Related StoriesSenate 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 law.

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. © 2007 - 2008 • Privacy StatementTerms of Use