VoIP and 911 Warning

Be leery of your VoIP phone system in case of emergencies. 911 services may not be available to you or will be limited. You should put local emergency numbers by or on your phone in case you have a problem until the providers get this sorted out this fall. The FCC has been after VoIP providers to fix this problem and just recently extended the deadline. But for you and me, that means we have to be careful in emergencies or be left stranded trying to dial 911.

Providers of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service have been told by the FCC to warn customers of potential problems of using 911 as an emergency number. The FCC told providers they should obtain acknowledgements from their subscribers and if they didn't, then they should turn off their service.

The VON coalition, a group of VoIP providers which include AT&T and MCI, were concerned of what would happen to their customers if they were cut off. Some portion of the subscribers typically won't respond to a request. Is it in the public's best interest to disconnect these people?

There are about 1.7 million VoIP subscribers nationwide and this cut off from the FCC could have potentially disrupted service for 100,000 people. The FCC issued this decree in May after a woman was unable to get 911 help to save her dying daughter.

The FCC ordered all the providers to have full 911 service by November 28th.

Here's the quote from the FCC:

Specifically, the Bureau announces that it will continue to refrain, for an additional 30 days -- until September 28, 2005 -- from enforcing the requirement that VoIP providers obtain affirmative acknowledgements from 100% of their subscribers that they have read and understood an advisory concerning the limitations of their E911 service against those providers that meet the reporting requirements established below.

In addition to satisfying these reporting requirements, to be eligible for this extension, providers also must have filed a report on or before August 10, 2005 in accordance with the Bureau's July 26, 2005 Public Notice. The Bureau will evaluate the sufficiency of the updated reports filed by interconnected VoIP providers and take subsequent action as necessary.

If you don't get anything from this article but this: Post all your local emergency phone numbers by your phone. Do it today. Emergencies aren't scheduled.

Stuart Simpson
http://www.voip-telephony-review.com

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