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#35284 - 05/19/05 11:21 PM Internet Phones Given 911 Deadline
Digital Geek Offline
UGN Super Poster

Registered: 09/18/02
Posts: 553
Loc: Cluj-Napoca, Romania
nternet phone providers were ordered Thursday to begin supplying reliable 911 emergency call service after regulators heard an anguished Florida woman describe how she was unable to summon help to save her dying infant daughter.

The Federal Communication Commission gave companies that offer telephone service over the Internet 120 days to certify that their customers will be able to reach an emergency dispatcher when they call 911. Also, a dispatcher will have to be able to tell where a caller is located and the number from which he is calling.

Her voice breaking, Cheryl Waller of Deltona, Fla., told the commissioners that "120 days is seven days longer than my daughter lived." Julia Waller "died at 113 days old because I can't reach an operator," her mother said.

Cheryl Waller said she got a recording when she used her Internet phone to call 911 after her daughter stopped breathing last March. By the time she was able to summon help with a neighbor's phone, the child was dead.

The
FCC's chairman, Kevin J. Martin, said situations like that are "simply unacceptable."

"Anyone who dials 911 has a reasonable expectation that he or she will be connected to an emergency operator," Martin said.

Internet phone service, known as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, shifts calls from wires and switches, using computers and broadband connections to convert sounds into data and transmit them via the Internet.

In many cases, subscribers use conventional phones hooked up to high-speed Internet lines.

Unlike traditional phones, which have a fixed address that a 911 operator can quickly call up, Internet phone service can be mobile. Someone with a laptop who signs up for service in Arizona, for example, may end up calling 911 for an emergency while on a trip to Boston.

Roughly half of the nation's 1.5 million or so VoIP users are served by cable television companies that already provide full-blown 911 capabilities because they only offer phone service to a fixed location.

The FCC's order requires companies that allow customers to use their Internet phones anywhere there is an Internet connection to provide the same emergency capability.

The order follow months of finger-pointing and bickering between VoIP carriers and the traditional local phone companies that own the network connections to the nation's nearly 6,200 "public safety answer points."

The FCC order, approved by a 4-0 vote, requires that local phone companies provide access to their E-911 networks — those that enable emergency operators to identify the location and telephone number of the caller — to any telecommunications carrier.

Just before the FCC issued its order, Vonage Holdings Corp., one of the largest VoIP carriers, said it had reached an agreement with BellSouth and SBC Communications to purchase E-911 services for its customers.

BellSouth confirmed the deal. A spokesman for SBC said the arrangement has not been completed. Vonage reached a similar deal with Verizon last week.

John Rego, Vonage's chief financial officer, said arrangements with the three companies will enable Vonage to provide E-911 capability to more than 75 percent of its customers. He said negotiations with Qwest Communications on a deal to cover the other 25 percent are continuing.

"We've been trying to get this access for a year," Rego said. "We'll work as diligently as we can to make this happen in the next 120 days. If we don't get there, the FCC will at least be able to see we've made a very good faith effort."

Under the order, VoIP carriers must provide a way for customers to update their location and callback numbers when they travel. Failure to update that information would cause an emergency operator to assume the call was coming from the last registered location.

The order also requires VoIP carriers to explain to their customers the capabilities and limitations of the emergency response service they are getting with their Internet phones. Connection to a 911 operator, for example, would not be possible for a VOIP customer if there is a power failure or loss of Internet connection.

Internet phone service usually is cheaper than traditional service, ranging from $20 to $50 per month for an unlimited national calling plan. As a result, it has become a rapidly growing industry, something federal regulators said they did not want to slow.

But, commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said, "We cannot let our desire to see VOIP proliferate come at the cost of providing the best emergency services available today, nor can we afford to take any steps backward."

The order does not apply to other Internet based providers, such as those that offer instant messaging or gaming services that contain voice components.

SOURCE

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#35285 - 05/19/05 11:50 PM Re: Internet Phones Given 911 Deadline
IceMyst Offline
UGN Elite Poster

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 1449
Loc: Where ever Gizmo is
Yah know people piss me off. When you open your Vonage account the FIRST thing you see is a BIG RED BOX that says weather or not you have 911 enabled on your phone. Then these people say they had no way of knowing that they didnt have it enabled.

It's their own flipping faults!!!! But can these people own up to their stupidity? NOOOO!!! They have to blaim someone else. Vonage makes it very clear when you sign up that 911 is not initialy enabled. You have to sign up for it so they can route the call so it doesnt go to New Jersey where they're based out of. Fucking morons!!!
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#35286 - 05/20/05 05:01 AM Re: Internet Phones Given 911 Deadline
KillHour Offline

*

Registered: 04/15/05
Posts: 247
Loc: Tonawanda, NY
The issue isn't whether the customer knows that they don't get 911 service. People don't always take these worst-case scenarios into account. The idea is that in an emergency, denying customers the ability to get help in order to save them $20/month is completely unacceptable (and rather disturbing).

Put yourself in the victim's shoes. You're having a son - if something bad happened to him, even if you knew that 911 wouldn't work, you would still try out of sheer desperation, and you would be pissed when it (obviously) didn't work. What difference does a warning sign make when someone dies anyways? You can't buy a house with doors and windows that don't open when there's a fire (duh), so why should you be able to buy phone service that doesn't work when you're having a heart attack?

-- That's my two cents, take it or leave it --
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#35287 - 05/21/05 12:35 AM Re: Internet Phones Given 911 Deadline
Gremelin Offline

Community Owner
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Registered: 02/28/02
Posts: 7193
Loc: Portland, OR; USA
It is the customers fault. In order to setup 911 service it isn't as easy as flipping a switch; they need to reasearch the users location and find which e911 station covers their area; additionally if they're migrating around wiht their AP then they need to distinguish the e911 center for that location...

Hence why it must be activated by the customer and it is totally understandable if you know how the system works... If you think it's unacceptable you're nieve and have no clue how even telephone switching functions thus have no right to provide an opionion based on a lack of knowledge to substanciate a claim.
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#35288 - 05/22/05 01:23 AM Re: Internet Phones Given 911 Deadline
KillHour Offline

*

Registered: 04/15/05
Posts: 247
Loc: Tonawanda, NY
I understand that 911 service is difficult to provide initially. I also realize that releasing new technology to the public before it is completely functional in order to provide capital for furthering development is common (think Windows ME). These problems are to be expected when rebuilding an entire network. However, this is not an excuse for sacrificing a government sanctioned (and very important) service that people often take for granted. Especially when it is a life or death matter. I wouldn't buy that service if I had no other way of contacting the police. Neither would any other responsible, tech-savvy person.

However, people are naturally stupid (it's an instinct - or something). That's the FCC's job - to take care of all the stupid people. "You can't blame them - they're just stupid, blah, blah." It's my American right to be stupid (God knows we all are sometimes).

You wouldn't come to a drug company's aid if they told the FDC "Yeah, we know it could kill you, and it barely even works in the first place. We'll put a big-ass warning sticker on it, so it would be the customers fault if they die. We'll fix it later." (would you?)

Anyways, it's not like they were shut down; They were just told that they had to make customer safety first priority, and to have it fixed by mid-September - not an unreasonable request.

/end rant
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"We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area."

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#35289 - 05/22/05 01:34 AM Re: Internet Phones Given 911 Deadline
Gremelin Offline

Community Owner
*****

Registered: 02/28/02
Posts: 7193
Loc: Portland, OR; USA
Quote:
Originally posted by shadow516:
I understand that 911 service is difficult to provide initially. I also realize that releasing new technology to the public before it is completely functional in order to provide capital for furthering development is common (think Windows ME). These problems are to be expected when rebuilding an entire network. However, this is not an excuse for sacrificing a government sanctioned (and very important) service that people often take for granted. Especially when it is a life or death matter. I wouldn't buy that service if I had no other way of contacting the police. Neither would any other responsible, tech-savvy person.
You aren't without it, all you have to do is TELL THE COMPANY YOUR ADDRESS so they can lookup your 911 service... That's the issue at hand, these people are MORONS because they choose not to activate the service.

Users have ALWAYS had the option, with Vonage at least, to enable 911 services, it's clearly stated in the welcome kit, on the website on the billing page, in the faq, and on their kbase...
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