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VoIP: Let Us Do E911 Better.
[August 19, 2005]

VoIP: Let Us Do E911 Better.

Nuvio’s lawsuit challenging the FCC’s E911 deadline is a good ploy.
TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist
In May, the FCC ordered that VoIP providers must provide a way for their customers to reach an emergency dispatcher when they call 911 the way it works from standard phones, which is to say dispatchers also must be able to identify the caller’s phone number and location on the screen, without requiring someone who’s fallen and can’t get up to rattle it off. The deadline is November 28th.

Kansas-based VoIP provider Nuvio Corp. has filed a lawsuit saying that’s an unreasonable length of time. Maybe not unreasonable to comply with the law, but unreasonable to do something a lot better than what the law requires.

Nuvio’s not challenging the fact that VoIP should provide emergency 911. Nobody who objects to providing 911 service belongs in the VoIP industry. “I absolutely share the [FCC’s] concern about E911 services and VoIP,” said Jason Talley, president and chief executive of Nuvio, according to industry observer Roy Mark. “I think maybe they were a little exuberant, though. The order was put together really quick and may not be based on the best technology useable out there.”
What Nuvio wants is what Vonage has been public about wanting: The time to do E911 the VoIP way, which means better than it’s currently provided by POTS.
“We have worked diligently to provide our users with 911 access,” Talley tells the Associated Press. But, “the 120-day requirement imposed by the FCC is arbitrary and capricious and without support in the record.” He's pointed out elsewhere that "The cellular industry has been grappling with these same issues for a dozen years."
What the industry wants is to rethink 911. “To enable E911 service, VoIP providers must obtain access to incumbent local exchange carriers systems, interconnection facilities, numbering resources, public service answering points and other critical elements that traditional telephone companies employ to provide E911 service,” Vonage has said in an official filing.
VoIPers, however, would like to run it through routers, and provide maps, photos and other cool stuff the current system doesn’t do but which is possible with VoIP. Note that there’s no government regulation requiring them to do so, because it’s not the nature of government to require ingenuity and technological advancement. That’s why business is business and government is government -- business creates new realities and government comes along afterwards with the pushbroom.
Government can require VoIP to provide E911 the old-fashioned way, or it can let VoIP come up with a better way.
This reporter thinks the Nuvio lawsuit’s just to buy time. Talley knows he won’t win, but maybe he can use government’s own inefficiency and bureaucracy against it as he buys time for the industry to create the better way of doing 911 before they have to waste a great deal of time and energy complying with the very system their technology has rendered obsolete.
David Sims is contributing editor for TMCnet. For more articles by David Sims, please visit:

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