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Special Focus
November 2004

VoIP & E-911 Make Promising Strides
BY Johanne Torres

Jeffrey A. Citron, chairman and CEO of Vonage Holdings Corp. recently joined Steve Seitz, government affairs director for the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) in announcing its E911 efforts with VoIP technologies in the state of Rhode Island.

According to Citron, Vonage was contacted by the state of Rhode Island wanting to possibly resolve one of the major problems haunting the VoIP industry — the inability to safely rely on E911 for emergency calls via a VoIP connection. Citron gave an overall explanation of Vonage’s technology deal with Intrado, which is currently working with the VoIP pioneer in this effort.

Intrado has been in business for 25 years. According to a representative present at the conference, the company routes about 95 percent of emergency calls terminated. Vonage’s Citron explained that when Vonage customers dial 9-1-1 using Vonage’s VoIP connection, Vonage will route the call over to Intrado. Intrado will then route the call to an operator who will determine where the call should go in order to resolve the emergency in question. With this Vonage/Intrado solution in place, Rhode Island emergency service dispatchers will be able to obtain callers’ call-back phone number (from IP) in case the call gets disconnected, complete name, and location when they dial 9-1-1.

Vonage also announced it joined as a charter member the National Emergency Number Association’s (NENA) “Next Generation E 9-1-1” forum. The forum was set up to discuss next generation technologies and services to improve the 9-1-1 system in the U.S. The company and NENA expressed their desire to get the Federal government involved in creating policy relief nationwide for general public safety. “What we are asking for is not to be told how to do VoIP, but instead we need access to 911 elements,” said Citron.

While the state of Rhode Island currently works with AT&T and Verizon to start implementing E911 solutions for those VoIP providers as well and other cellular communication companies, Vonage and Intrado along with Qwest have already started working with other states including Washington to implement their combined E911 solution.

USA Datanet
Intrado also just announced a deal with USA Datanet to deploy its Emergency Calling Service (ECS) nationwide. USA Datanet provides long-distance voice; Internet access, and IP network services to 480,000 residential and commercial customers. With this move, USA Datanet will be joining other Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers and wholesale VoIP providers currently dealing with Intrado.

“Immediate access to basic emergency services is an absolute requirement for our VoIP subscribers,” said David Montanaro, president and CEO of USA Datanet. “Intrado provides our customers with this critical component right from the start.

Equally important, however, is the cooperation this relationship brings to the development of Intrado’s upcoming V9-1-1 Mobility Service, which will offer innovative features to support VoIP’s full range of enhanced services that our subscribers require, such as mobility and real-time location information.”

Intrado will soon be launching its V9-1-1 Mobility Service that meets NENA I2 requirements. The service will route VoIP 9-1-1 calls directly to a 9-1-1 call taker, and the caller’s physical address will appear on the call taker’s screen just like any other traditional wireline 9-1-1 call today. The company says the solution does not require new equipment at the PSAP to handle VoIP calls and will possibly need no additional staff to handle VoIP 9-1-1 calls because VoIP calls will replace — not add — current wireline 9-1-1 call volume. The V9-1-1 Mobility Service will also provide an MSAG-valid address to the PSAP and deliver the call to the selective router, supporting static, mobile and foreign telephone number VoIP subscribers.

“Consumers will continue to adopt emerging technologies like VoIP that must be supported by the existing 9-1-1 system,” said Stephen Meer, Intrado chief technology officer. “Because of our ability to effectively integrate new technology, Intrado has extended its lead in the VoIP 9-1-1 market.”

Hopefully, corporate agreements like these will lead VoIP services in the right direction towards satisfactory 9-1-1 contingency planning and effective execution of such plans.

Johanne Torres is the contributing editor for and Internet Telephony magazine. She can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

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