Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States The Internet Your Rights Online Technology

FCC: VoIP Providers Must Provide 911 Services 496

Posted by timothy
from the insert-standard-rants dept.
acadiel writes "The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the FCC will require VoIP providers to provide 911 location services. This will mean extra $$$ that the VoIP providers will have to put out, which ultimately means extra $$$ that the consumer will have to put out. This is the first step in regulating an industry that should have been left alone..." I hope network end-points and physical location aren't going to be too tightly linked; one of the appeals of VoIP is using it from anywhere that has an adequate Internet connection.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FCC: VoIP Providers Must Provide 911 Services

Comments Filter:
  • Overseas? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VirtualUK (121855) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:16PM (#8368168) Homepage
    Isn't this going to just push VoIP companies overseas where there won't be as tight regulation? It doesn't matter to the end user in the long run where the physical servers are located afterall.
    • Re:Overseas? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by miu (626917)
      It matters to customers where the servers are located if it introduces delay into call setup time or a perceptible delay to voice conversations.

      Also, the FCC gave a result they want, they have not yet mandated any particular solution. If US providers are being used for any portion of the communication they are potentially subject to FCC regulation.

      • Re:Overseas? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by VirtualUK (121855) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:38PM (#8368428) Homepage
        Agreed, it "could" play a factor, but it's only really going to cause problems if the customer is using something like a media proxy to route the voice through. If no media proxy is being used then after call set up the two end points would be talking directly to each other, which would be as fast as you're going to get it regardless of where the VoIP suppliers registrars are sat.
    • Re:Overseas? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nacturation (646836) <nacturation.gmail@com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:33PM (#8368379) Journal
      I don't think the intent here is to regular any VOIP service, such as Skype, iChat, etc. Computer-to-computer service *shouldn't* see any regulation at all, though I'm sure the telcos are pushing to regulate it to stifle competition. However, as soon as you tie that service to a telephone number (Vonage, et al) it's fair game for certain regulatory controls.
    • Re:Overseas? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:34PM (#8368397)
      Isn't this going to just push VoIP companies overseas where there won't be as tight regulation? It doesn't matter to the end user in the long run where the physical servers are located afterall.

      The end user might not care, but that end user will seriously cause problems for their friends and family. It means to call a VoIP-to-phone user from a normal PTSN phone would be an international call to wherever the PTSN-to-VoIP transfer happens. If that transfer happens in the USA, then the VoIP company is a phone service provider and they'll have to comply with FCC rules.
      • Re:Overseas? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by VirtualUK (121855)
        It just depends whether or not the PSTN-to-VoIP gateway is just that, or if it's a service run by the VoIP company. There are plenty of PSTN-to-VoIP gateways that allow you to break out onto different networks. I'm not saying it's pretty at the moment, but what I'm suggesting is that the gateway needn't be provided by the company that is providing the registrar services, and thus would be impossible to regulate if they were overseas.
    • Re:Overseas? (Score:4, Informative)

      by t0ny (590331) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:37PM (#8368423)
      From the top level post: "This will mean extra $$$ that the VoIP providers will have to put out, which ultimately means extra $$$ that the consumer will have to put out. This is the first step in regulating an industry that should have been left alone..."

      ja, d00d, joo r right. d0wn wit da 35tabl1shm3nt!!!

      I can totally see why they shouldnt force people to have something like 911 service. Heaven forbid you be able to get emergency service! Moron.

      BTW, I use Vonage, and they already provide 911 service- you just need to give them the area the service is physically tied to so they will know where to route the call.

      It does not, however, tie directly into the existing 'official' 911 service (from what I read on their "911 ToS"); I think its a call center which can pass it on or something.

      • Re:Overseas? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gosh_d (666253)
        Calm down. Nobody's saying that 911-enabled VoIP is fundamentally a bad thing. VoIP is a service being provided by private companies--you're not locked into anything. Why forcefully regluate things like this when a free market would naturally provide each consumer with what _they_ want?
        • Re:Overseas? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Qzukk (229616) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:05PM (#8368719) Journal
          Why forcefully regluate things like this when a free market would naturally provide each consumer with what _they_ want?

          We were looking just last week at evaluating VoIP solutions for some of our clients. It never even crossed my mind to ask if you could or couldn't make a 911 call from them.

          So what happens when joe slightlybetterthanaverage hears about these voip phones that are all the rage and that means he can replace his phone line completely and just go with the cablemodem? He can call his neighbor, he can call his mom, he can call in sick to work, but if his daugher falls down the stairs, he can't call 911? I bet he'd want 911 service, but given that he can call anyone else, why would he even think to ask?

          It seems to me that if you can dial the number "911" on the device (ie, something somewhere connects you to the POTS), it should connect you to some number that can appropriately handle an emergency, since this is a major expectation that most Americans will have from their phone.
        • Re:Overseas? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by afidel (530433) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:09PM (#8369831)
          Because almost every American takes 911 service as a granted. Therefore simply being in a house with a VoIP service which does not provide 911 service is potentially dangerous to those NOT subsribed to the service, does anyone really know the non-911 emergency numbers for their own emergency services let alone those of every place they visit.
      • Re:Overseas? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75.yahoo@com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:55PM (#8368616)
        I can totally see why they shouldnt force people to have something like 911 service. Heaven forbid you be able to get emergency service! Moron.

        Really... why is this under "your rights online"? Isn't it my right, by FCC rules, that when I pick up the phone I can get emergency service? It shouldn't matter if that's online or not.

        We all pay for emergency services whether we like it or not at the time. We do it mostly with our taxes (which pay for the police and fire coverage to begin with), and you don't get to opt out of those just because you don't want to pay them. Part of it's the concept of the "greater good", but it's also for your own good as well - you may get all hot and bothered about being forced to pay for 911 service now, but that day you wake up to find your house burning down or a burglar downstairs you'll be happy it's there.

        Obviously what the government does not want to happen is for some family of five somewhere to die by smoke inhalation because they didn't know the phone number of their fire department. This happened pretty often before 911 was a standard, and it would happen pretty often again if VoIP took off without 911 service mandated. There would eventually be a public outcry and you'd all be forced to pay for 911 service eventually anyway - the difference being that doing it upfront means nobody has to die before it's forced upon you. I think that's fair, quite honestly.
        • One reason people may be opposed to it is that I would guess few people at this point use VOIP as their only phone service. For example, I currently have a packet8 account that I use for long distance calls, but I also have a cell. If I'm already paying for GPS on my cell so people can reach me, why should I pay twice so I can call from my VOIP phone? At this stage people who sign up for VOIP are mostly early adopter techies who are aware of the 911 issue.

          The other thing that makes it more difficult is

      • Re:Overseas? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Cbs228 (596164) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:12PM (#8368789)

        Vonage 911 dialing is supposed to-- the keyword here is supposed to-- connect you to the same PSAP (Public Safety Answer Point) that you would be connected to if you dialed 911 from a landline.

        In a normal 911 call from a landline, the call goes from the telco switch to the PSAP via a dedicated trunk that carries only 911 traffic. A data channel (ISDN) is provided that sends ANI/ALI information from the phone company, which uses various databases provided by Intrado and others to match up your phone number with your current address.

        Dialing 911 from a Vonage connection, however, is equivalent to dialing the PSAP's 10-digit number. The call does not go through the 911 trunk, and no location information is sent other than standard Caller ID information. Depending on configuration of the PSAP, this line may also take non-emergency calls and your call may be answered with less priority than a normal 911 call. This 10-digit number is also the number used by alarm companies to report alarms to the police.

        In the past, serious problems have been reported with the Vonage 911 service. One man tried to call "911" and got an insurance company instead. I highly recommend that you test Vonage's emergency dialing feature. Do not simply test it out, however. You will want to notify your local police department that you want to do this.

        In case you didn't know, DSLReports.com maintains an active forum [dslreports.com] on VoIP providers. Official reps from Vonage frequent the site.

    • They can be made to play by the FCC's rules. Rulings like this wouldn't affect totally private, seperate networks like a Ventrillo server or something. That's your own bussiness. However if you want to ofter PSTN services over the Internet that interacts with the US phone network, you have to obey US rules.

      Now nothing would stop a company from existing only in Europe and Asia, for example, and then doing as they pleased. But that would mean to get calls to the US they'd need to use the PSTN, which negates
  • Cell phone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luigi30 (656867) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:16PM (#8368169)
    So, since servers can be anywhere in the world for VoIP, it's going to be like calling 911 from your cell phone-- no address unless you give them one, no identity data until you give them some. Great.
    • Re:Cell phone (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sangreal66 (740295)
      ...until they force voip providers to provide that information too, like cell phones.
    • Re:Cell phone (Score:3, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) *
      And that's exactly why cell phone networks are being forced to implement a location-spying technology of some kind so that the 911 centers get at least some clue where you're calling from if you call 911 on a cell phone. Because complying with e911 is not an elective, it's a requirement.
    • Cell phones can be located physically by triangulation using relative signal strengths at cell towers. Given this works best in densely populated areas where cell towers are closer together, but it's not just something out of spy movies.

      In an emergency situation, you may not be able to give your location and they may not be able to easily locate you based on your IP address. OTOH, VOIP via laptop will require the person to be near some sort of access point, meaning a land line or cell phone should be av

    • Re:Cell phone (Score:4, Informative)

      by openmtl (586918) <polarbearNO@SPAMbtinternet.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:53PM (#8368600) Journal
      In London, UK when you call the emergency services then they know where you are down to the last 500 meters (yards) to 3700 meters/Yards according to the radio cell size. The Cell phone companies have always been able to triangulate your position (well at least GSM systems do). OK not as good as GPS but better than "I'm calling from England",

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3485141.stm [bbc.co.uk]

      "With effect from July 2003, both fixed and mobile networks operators have been required to provide caller location information to emergency services responding to 999 calls under the EC Directive 2002/22/EC."

  • by xkenny13 (309849) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:16PM (#8368173) Homepage
    I'm using Vonage [vonage.com] for VoIP phone service, and they already allow Dialing 911 [vonage.com].

    Are there other VoIP service providers that don't?
    • by phoneboy (11009) <dwelch AT phoneboy DOT com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:23PM (#8368266) Homepage
      Many providers do 911 a bit like speed dial -- the provider looks up your address, assigns "911" to your local Public Safety Access Point. However:

      1. Not all providers do this.
      2. The providers that do it often get it wrong.
      3. You often don't know they got it wrong until you need it because there's no way for you to "verify" that it works.
      4. Not all PSAPs are created equal -- in some areas, you get to a 911 call center, in others it gets you somewhere else that isn't exactly a 911 call center.

      Personally, I think it should be up to the provider if they want to provide 911 or not. They shouldn't be allowed to say they provide 911 service unless it is done right .

      -- PhoneBoy
      • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:27PM (#8369513) Journal
        4. Not all PSAPs are created equal -- in some areas, you get to a 911 call center, in others it gets you somewhere else that isn't exactly a 911 call center.

        Did I hear "call center"? Let's outsource them to India!

        "Thank you for calling your local E-911 enabled emergency center -- how may I assist you today with your problem?"
        "Help! I'm being stabbed to death."
        "Ah yes sir I am understanding that you are being stabbed. I need to collect some information from you first. Is your address 192 Smith St?"
        "Yes! Oh god help me!"
        "Yes sir I am understanding that your address is correct on my screen. How may I assist you?"
        "OOOOOOOOOOH GOOOOOOOOD NOOOOOOOOOO HEEEEEEEEELP ME."
        "Yes sir I am understanding that you are needing assistance but we have procedure that we need to follow. Can I please verify your e-mail address per our records?"
        [dead air]
        "Hello? Sir?"
        "Sir are you there? Hello?"
        [click]

        (There goes my karma ;)

    • Dialing 911 is the easy part. Quoted from the link you posted:

      "You Must Pre-designate the Physical Location of Your Vonage Line for 911 Dialing to Function.

      Remember that unlike traditional phone lines, Vonage service is portable to any location with broadband Internet access. For example, you can have a New York number and receive calls in Texas. You can also take your equipment with you on a trip but, when you travel, 911 Dialing will automatically route your call to the local emergency personnel locatio

    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:31PM (#8368357)
      Vonage has a poor fill-in for 911 service already, the ability to map "911" to the local police department.

      Sorry. That's not 911, and it's far away from e911. Phone companies is required to provide the true e911. That means when you hit 911, you get connected immediately to the right call center servicing your area that has the capability to dispatch police, fire, and medical resources and your location data is automatically sent to that center as well.

      911 call centers cannot be reached by mapping to any 10-digit number. There is no 10-digit number for them, they are simply known as 911 on the network within the region they serve. Vonage's immitation 911 depends on mapping 911 to a 10-digit number, so it can't find the call center and has to hope the police can help them. If you call a police department to report a fire, you will lose when-seconds-count time being bounced around while things burn.

      If Vonage wants to compete with the phone companies, they have to have the same regulatory burdens that the FCC slaps on phone companies. It's only fair. If it means Vonage has to limit portability and/or raise prices to
      • by danielsfca2 (696792) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:06PM (#8368733) Journal
        > 911 call centers cannot be reached by mapping to any 10-digit number. There is no 10-digit number...

        See, this is the problem. It is absolutely stupid for there not to be an alternate unique 10-digit number for each public safety call center. It would be very useful for so many reasons:

        Users of Voice over IP, as well as cellphones, could program the relevant emergency numbers into their speed-dial, so that pressing the "Emergency" or "Fire" button on their phones, or another designated speed-dial marked on the phone, would put them in contact with the proper locality's authorities.

        More reasons:
        - Your elderly parent lives two hours away. You're made aware that there's something wrong. Instead of calling your city's 911 and explaining that the problem isn't at your house but rather in such-and-such town, you have the number for her town's 911 by your phone in case of just such an emergency, getting help to her house faster.

        - Your cellphone may be your primary phone. Instead of always having to call the CHP 911, you can call your local town 911 if you're at home. Also more likely to be faster.

        - Obviously, it would make the job of the VOIP providers ten times easier--just maintain a database of these emergency centers, and map the "911" mnemonic to the one closest to the location on file for the user. And perhaps there could be an alternate number to call if you want to reach 911 for a different locale--for example, 415-240 is an exchange in San Francisco (Central), so if you were in SF with an IP phone registered in New York, dialing, say, *911 415-240 would lookup the most appropriate call center in San Francisco. Obviously, you would have to ask someone their phone number to do this, but it shouldn't be a huge problem--most vacationers likely have access to a "real" phone. That feature should just be there in case you need it, and if you're going to be somewhere without a land-line for a long time, you should update your location.

        I think the benefits of doing this are enough that it should be done. How much effort could it possibly take to assign each one a real phone number?
        • by DissidentHere (750394) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:48PM (#8369162) Homepage Journal
          Actually, there are ten digit numbers for PSAP dispatch centers. Having worked for a national electronic security company for 6 years, I have many of them memorized. There are databases of 10 digit PASP numbers, but they easily get out of date, and they tend not to be free.

          A Google like database of PSAP numbers that is kept up to date might be a government database project that we could support. Such a database would be useful for citizens and corporations. Even without GIS information, you could at least get close enough based on city/county information to get an emergency response.
      • The VoIP companies should not have to comply with the same regulatory burdens. They should have to comply with the same portion of those regulatory burdens that address the emergency 911 service infrastructure.

        Vonage relies on their customers to provide the plumbing. Regulating them in the same way as a traditional phone company that owns the plumbing does not make sense.

        So, again, regulating them for 911 service? Yes. Regulating them identically to the traditional phone companies? NO.
  • by sahonen (680948) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:16PM (#8368175) Homepage Journal
    I don't see what the problem is... Would you rather sign up for your new VoIP provider, then find out when you're being robbed or whatever that the police can't find where you are, or worse, not be able to reach them through 911?
  • by aderusha (32235) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:16PM (#8368176) Homepage
    i'm not a big fan of regulation, but requiring access to emergency services seems like a pretty reasonable request. the tone of this story seems to indicate that the government mandating that people are able to call for emergency service is somehow a bad thing. it's in the "your rights online" section, but i don't see where my rights are being trampled.
    • i'm not a big fan of regulation, but requiring access to emergency services seems like a pretty reasonable request. the tone of this story seems to indicate that the government mandating that people are able to call for emergency service is somehow a bad thing. it's in the "your rights online" section, but i don't see where my rights are being trampled.

      Are the mandates for VoIP somehow different from regular land-line service? Given a home that had phone service, but is now "disconnected" ... you can sti
    • Some might make the argument that if emergency dialing is that important to consumers, that they'd vote with their feet... That VoIP providers who didn't allow for 911 dialing would be forced to eventually IF it was that important to consumers. And since government doesn't know what's important to consumers, they might as well stay out of it.
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:39PM (#8368441)
        Many people don't think about them, or think about needing them, until an actual emergency strikes. Then it's too late. It's not a matter of if it is important to consumers, but rather if it is important to society. If we left all safety related decisions up to "the consumers" we'd be in a world of trouble. The majority isn't always right, and our system was built to acknowledge that.

        A true majority-rule democracy would do just that. Everyone would have a direct vote on anything important and whatever the public said, would go. That's not how it works. We are a federal republic that is very democratic. People have a strong say in the government, and direct vote on many things, but their word is not final and they don't get to control everything directly.
  • by Ignorant Aardvark (632408) <cydeweys.gmail@com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:17PM (#8368186) Homepage Journal
    I take offense at this article that things are being regulated that are "better off being left alone". I'm sorry, but requiring 911 features is not an excessive regulation. So users of the VoIP services are going to have to pay more - big deal. Having 911 access is very important and often means the difference between life and death, or extinguished fire versus hundreds of thousands of dollars lost. Since the VoIP services aren't capable of being altruistic and offering a very much needed service, the government needs to step in and enforce these regulations. This is what the government is supposed to do, and is certainly not "government overstepping its bounds"!
    • 911 service is simply a phone call to 911. The question is whether or not the authorities can physically locate the phone being used to dial 911.

      I don't think anyone would actually prefer to block the ability to dial 911.

      M

      • 911 service is simply a phone call to 911. The question is whether or not the authorities can physically locate the phone being used to dial 911.


        911 isn't very useful in true emergency situations if your location can't even be traced. If you're being burglared (sp?), you don't have time to tell them your address. You call 911, say, "There's a burglar in my home, HELP!", and run and hide. You don't wanna be caught by the burglar on the phone trying to give them directions to your house.
    • by beakerMeep (716990) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:21PM (#8368252)
      I absolutely agree. The article submiter showed true stupidity by making a comment like that. There have ALREADY been cases where people died because cell phones did not have 911 location services.

      • Just because someone dies because their phone doesn't have 911 locating service doesn't mean that the government must force everyone to have this. 911 locating service is a technology that works well with the existing cell phone infrastructure. Forcing this implementation with VOIP would mean that you could only make internet phone calls through a government approved, traceable system. Sorry, but this is not necessary. If you want to be traced, then buy a traceable phone.

        M
      • I absolutely agree. The article submiter showed true stupidity by making a comment like that. There have ALREADY been cases where people died because cell phones did not have 911 location services.

        Yup. There was a case late last year where the passengers of a pleasure boat in trouble called 911 via their cell phones, and the police responded miles away... To the home adress of the owner of the cell phone since that was the default location the cellular system gave the E911 system. All onboard died.

        A c

  • by justMichael (606509) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:18PM (#8368196) Homepage
    This will mean extra $$$ that the VoIP providers will have to put out, which ultimately means extra $$$ that the consumer will have to put out.

    Vonage [vonage.com] added this a while back, more info here [vonage.com] and oddly enough, my bill went down after they implemented it.
  • by Clyde (150895) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:19PM (#8368209)
    As much as I believe that most politicians are horse thieves and some things should be less regulated (radio frequencies for public use, for example), I think I'd be pissed if I got VoIP home phone service and wasn't able to call 911 in an emergency.

    C
    • Just think of the issues that would be raised after a major emergency that could not be reported "I tried to call 911 but I couldn't connect..." That's when things would really start to hit the fan.

      They can see a situation like this coming and they're trying to nip it at the bud.

  • Go for it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sangreal66 (740295) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:20PM (#8368218)
    I'm all for this. Sure, it'll cost more and that sucks. On the other hand, however, I feel that this was one of the larger hurdles stopping the wider adoption of VoIP. By forcing compliance through regulation you ensure that those providers who do provide the (rather important) 911 support will be able to compete price wise with those who would otherwise choose not to.
  • Needs to be done (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rorschach1 (174480) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:20PM (#8368227) Homepage
    Despite everyone here seeming to think that VoIP should be totally unregulated, 911 support is IMHO a very Good Thing.

    People expect - and reasonably so - that they can pick up any phone in the country, dial 911, and get an emergency operator.

    And how long is it going to be before people start installing VoIP payphones, if they haven't already? What about pre-wired apartment complexes offering cheap phone service?

    Use of VoIP isn't limited to geeks with a dedicated and separate VoIP setup anymore.
  • by chopper749 (574759) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:20PM (#8368233) Journal
    your location? What if you go though a proxy? Will it be a felony if the proxy reports it's location to 911, and not your actual location?
  • Whatever... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by big_groo (237634) <groovis&gmail,com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:21PM (#8368248) Homepage
    This is the first step in regulating an industry that should have been left alone..."

    Um...this is 911 we're talking about here. I pay 25 cents on my phone bill for 911 service. God forbid, I ever have to use 911 - but I'm thankful it is there. Good for the FCC.

  • 911 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by panic911 (224370) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:21PM (#8368250) Homepage
    So the guy who wrote this article seems to think that regulating VoIP is a bad thing. I would agree with him to a degree, but having an emergency number is critical if you ever expect VoIP to replace normal land line phones. Personally, I would not want to rely completely on VoIP if it didn't have 911. What if a family member had a heart attack or something, should people die because they don't want the FCC regulating their phone systems? I think not.
    • Re:911 (Score:5, Informative)

      by orthogonal (588627) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:58PM (#8368651) Journal
      What if a family member had a heart attack or something,

      Having had a heart attack when I was at home alone, I'm not sure I'd be alive today were it not for 911.

      So there's no way I'm going to rely on VOIP without 911 service.

      And given the additional possibility of broadband outages, I'm going to take the safer road, and just keep my traditional landline.

      (Oh, by the way, if you're calling 911 about your own ill-health, try to make this clear to the 911 operator up-front. After being asked "is this a police or fire emergency", and being transferred (!), I got an operator who, after my initial description of my problem -- something along the lines of "I'm very short of breath and I think I'm having a heart attack" -- asked, "does the subject have a history of asthma?" I had to explain -- while struggling to breath through the crushing pain in my chest -- that, first the "subject" was me, and second, I didn't have a lot of breath or strength to devote to chatting about possible diagnoses, could they please just send an ambulance now? (I knew had to conserve my strength for my upcoming crawl to the door.))
  • However, if a VoIP provider does not have 911 calling capability, they should make that very clear when you sign up so you can make an informed choice.
  • This seems like an obvious thing to do. I am sure that if a 911 call from whatever source could NOT be located, then most /.ers would be complain and saying why not! If cell phone or VOIP usage grows so quickly that the providers can't keep up, then slow down the growth untill they can.
  • Why Regulate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pdaoust007 (258232) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:26PM (#8368294)
    Most customers will prefer providers that actually offer 911 features in the first place. It's a value proposition and people usually take their family's security pretty seriously.

    I think it should be left alone, people can make their own decisions. If they choose a VoIP provider without 911 then it's their problem (or perhaps they use it as a second line and have 911 on their POTS).
  • by catphile (316499) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:27PM (#8368309) Homepage
    You people are bitching about 911 service?! Do you complain when that *big government* fire department shows up with their *oppressive* hoses to save your shit when it's on fire?

    Just go move to your shack in Montana and let the rest of us have a functioning community. :muttering under breath:
  • Hey! (Score:2, Funny)

    by TheVidiot (549995)
    That's
    &#163;&#163;&#163;
    you insensitive clod!


    (damn code filter!)
  • by Garak (100517) <chris AT insec DOT ca> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:30PM (#8368344) Homepage Journal
    VOIP is just another technology for voice communication like two cans and a string, two way radio and POTS.

    I think what they mean is that if a VOIP system is connected to the publicly switched telephone network they must give access to local 911...

    Here in canada rogers cable is offering telephone lines using VOIP on their cable system. I sure hope they offer access to the local 911...
  • by MongooseCN (139203) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:32PM (#8368362) Homepage
    You can't tell the difference between a VOIP phone and a non-VOIP phone. What if there's an emergency at someone's house and they use a VOIP that didn't have a 911 number? The person in the emergency situation may not know this and try dialing 911. They end up getting who-knows-what when they are expecting help.

    The stressful nature of emergencies makes it hard to think and people have it drilled into them to dial 911 in an emergency. If 911 doesn't work, the situation could get much worse.

    Just imagine dialing 911 because someone's bleeding out on the floor and getting an advertisement asking you if you'd like to buy this number.
    • Just imagine dialing 911 because someone's bleeding out on the floor and getting an advertisement asking you if you'd like to buy this number.

      And just imagine the lawsuit afterwards. This protects the phone company as much as the user.
  • Where you have to dial the area code and then "911", ie 1-212-911.
  • by TeraBill (746791)
    I think what they are probably going to want for this, is something that will be mandatory and automatic. In other words, you will have it whether you really want it or not. And it will have to detect your location and update the info to the PSAP. Vonage doesn't do either of these today and I think it will be a bit spendy to do it. I know I have talked to people about the concept of having some sort of GPS device in a phone that could auto-update the location when it network connects. The problem is th
  • by enosys (705759) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:34PM (#8368387) Homepage
    The ordinary phone system is extremely reliable. The electrical system is somewhat less reliable. Personal computers, some comsumer grade router/gateway boxes and many broadband ISPs are way less reliable. I don't think that VoIP, which relies on all these things, is ready to be used for 911.

    If a VoIP provider doesn't have to offer 911 and it doesn't offer it then I hope it is immune from lawsuits regarding 911. People will also hopefully keep some other means of calling 911 then. However, if a VoIP provider offers 911 people might use that as their only means of calling for help in an emergency and if it doesn't work someone may die, there may be huge lawsuits, etc. I'm sure this will happen soon enough.

  • by renard (94190) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:34PM (#8368389)
    I look at this decision as decreasing the differentiation between the two types of service:
    1. Increasing cost for IP phones, where they were competing on cost;
    2. Mandating greater functionality for IP phones, in one of the few areas where traditional landlines had an edge
    Thus for example a friend of mine with an IP phone at home has kept a minimal landline solely for the purpose of being able to dial 911.

    Ultimately, by reducing the differentiation of these services, the decision is less damaging to either IP Phone providers or the Telcos than it is to the consumer - who used to be able to make a choice, less $ or better 911, but in the future will not be able to.

    Sorry Charlie! The whole market just got that much less free, and that much less interesting.

    -renard

  • back before 911 even existed, what did people do?

    they actually kept the phone numbers of the local police, fire, and medical services next to their phone.

    I dont see why we cant ask people who choose not to use regular phone lines to be a little bit responsible for themselves
  • remember when... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stev_mccrev (712012) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:41PM (#8368470) Homepage

    there were those little modem viruses that would continually dial 911?

    How long till we see a worm that floods 911 using VoIP from all infected hosts?

  • Is it even possible to do reliable location service on VoIP? It's kind of like cel: unless you have GPS built into the end-point device itself, there's simply no reliable way to determine where the end-point device is currently located. Even if you know it's IP address, there's no mapping between IP and geographic location.

  • It seems to me that a VoIP provider is entirely the wrong place to route 911 calls. How is the provider supposed to know who to connect you to? Since it's IP from you to the provider, you could be anywhere when you make your call, regardless of what your home address is. If you make a 911 call from a cell phone, it should connect you to the police for the cell you're in, not your home police department, who will be useless if you're 100 miles from home.

    The right way to set things up is to have the physical
  • What? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stonecypher (118140) <(stonecypher) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:44PM (#8368511) Homepage Journal
    I'm confused. Why is it that requiring a network to carry emergency services equates in the average slashdotter's mind to unwanted regulation? They're not taxing, they're not restricting, and frankly, I think the extra tenth of a cent per month each person has to shell out is responsible, when you're covering for things like fire, burglary and murder.

    Consider that every telephone in the nation on the traditional network - even ones shut off for nonpayment! - must respond to 911. So, you're in a horror movie, out in the forest, being chased by a murderer, and the writer thinks it'd be cute to send you into a shack after a phone, only to have it be disconnected, so that your perfectly reasonable civilized response is useless.

    In the real world, that doesn't happen. If the phone company shuts off your line, they must still respond to calls to the operator, to 911, and to repair (and they usually also respond to calls to the business office for obvious reasons.) This is a rational behavior and the law requires it as a safety measure.

    I think it's quite the appropriate thing to require this of VoIP providers, just as they required it of cell phone providers. Save your battle cries and sabre-rattling for when they do bad things. Go yell at SCO or something.
  • After the power plant deregulations plunged us all into darkness, you thought we might have learned something. But no, not the ever liberatarian computer scientists! (The only time their free market dedication wavers is on the subcontinent.)

    Companies make money by pushing the envelope. They take calculated gambles on what they produce. This is a good thing: nothing ventured, nothing gained -- especially when you are using and developing techniques and technologies that have never been seen before. We have

  • by spiritraveller (641174) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:48PM (#8368550)
    "The FCC announced this month that it would develop rules for what is known as Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP."

    What if I am using my computer to talk to another person on their computer, and we don't connect to the POTS lines at all... are we using VOIP and therefore required to have 911 access?

    Does it depend on whether we are paying a third party to facilitate our calls?

    I RTFAed, but it doesn't explain what the rule covers.

  • by malsdavis (542216) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:56AM (#8373219)
    More costs due to Geroge Bush's big "terrorism" propaganda ploy.

    As a European its funny to see how American's totally believe the rubbish that they are all in imminent danger of a terrorist attack after having one incident almost 3 years ago.

    The amount of deaths due to this incident were totally insignificant compared to say American gun-deaths that have occured since, yet while gun laws remain unchanged, every area of American has undergone change to take into account a threat which has so far actually affected 0.000018% of Americans.

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

Working...