An assortment of information, discussions,events, news and views on VoIP Services.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

VoIP just might answer the 911 call

The most prolific argument since the inception of VoIP has been its continuous conflicts with the 911 service. General concerns were mainly two; many times, dialling 911 from a computer would not actually connect you to a 911 operator, and even if you do, he won't be able to figure out where you are calling from, hence negating the overall purpose of a 911 call. In the Lee county, however, a different story is brewing up. The Federal Communications Commission has ordered companies that provide VoIP to fix the problem to make sure the calls go to the emergency operators only, and also that the calling numbers are displayed, along with the location (according to an article on

Ideally, a VoIP-transported 911 call should go directly to the closest public safety access point (PSAP) and display both the phone number as well as the location. Initial testing for the same has begun, and the Lee County Public Safety has urged all the local residents to try the new platform by calling the County 911 Program Manager and setting an appointment for a proxy call to 911 for checking the newly implemented system, and to schedule calls in a manner that the number is never busy. Lee County Public Safety is already facing problems, with a figure of approximately 2-20% of the customers reporting that the system does not work with them. Quiet shockingly, they are unaware of the fact that they would not be able to contact 911 via VoIP in case of any emergency.

Vonage and Comcast, two of the leading VoIP carriers of our times, do not give access to their customers to call 911, with Vonage customers needing a confirmation form the company. According to the Public Safety agency estimates, there should have been thousands of calls since this initiative began. Quite surprisingly though, there have been very few calls per day, hence calling for a stricter course of action.

In times like the present ones, when many have replaced their traditional telephony systems with services from VoIP providers like Vonage and others, the initiative in Lee by the authorities is certainly a move in the right direction. While tests are still going on, it is perhaps a point to stress upon that companies in the domain of IP telephony must also actively participate in such kind of programs, and try to incorporate 911 support in their services, since safety is something we all desire. Companies might not do it for the social cause, but could surely do the same as an added incentive that could lead to greater sales.

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