Friday, August 26, 2005

Your VoIP Line May Be Terminated Next Week

If you don't acknowledge the 911 service sucks
Written by Karl Bode

If you don't respond to your VoIP provider's emails concerning the limitations of 911 service, you could find your service terminated early next week. It's part of an FCC order many providers claim is unreasonable, and at least one is suing over. Doesn't matter whether you use it on DSL, a T1 or a DS3! Everyone is affected.

Back in May a mother blamed Vonage 911 service for her baby's death, despite the fact Vonage proved to local news outlets that the 911 call in question went through - twice. That didn't seem to matter. This and other similar reports created an uproar, and VoIP 911 became a hot political issue.

In some instances the problem was that customers didn't carefully read this screen, alerting them that they must manually configure 911 service before use. The customer complaints led several states to sue Vonage. Vonage responded by routing everyone to 911 centers, regardless of whether they'd configured the service or not.

Too late.

Despite the fact that on any given day you can find ample examples of traditional 911 failures, VoIP 911 was now an FCC and Congressional target. This prompted the creation of new laws, and an FCC order demanding all VoIP providers offer 911 service by November (some VoIP industry insiders believe this is a trojan horse effort to eliminate bell competition).

VoIP provider Nuvio has decided to sue the FCC over the 120 day window, claiming the request "unreasonable, arbitrary, and because technologically infeasible, capricious."

As part of the order, providers were also told they had to get 100% customer acknowledgement of the limitations of VoIP 911 by August 29.

That request also hasn't sat well with VoIP providers. “You could tell people that their house is burning down and by clicking on this link you can stop it and only 60 percent of them would respond,” recently noted VoicePulse CEO Ravi Sakaria.

As the hour grows late, VoIP providers have grown desperate - flinging the "our 911 service sucks" confirmation emails far and wide. Our office receives at least one a day, and we're not even a current customer.

Time Warner Cable meanwhile claims they've gotten all 600,000 VoIP customers to respond (sure they did, says CNET's Russell Shaw).

Vonage states they've received confirmation from roughly 96% of their subscribers. If the estimated remaining 31,000 subscribers don't respond to Vonage by next week, they will find their services terminated.