Magazine article CRM Magazine

Challenges with 911 to Slow VoIP Adoption? Major Phone Companies Are Offering VoIP Providers with 911 Services, but Tracking and Routing Issues Remain

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Challenges with 911 to Slow VoIP Adoption? Major Phone Companies Are Offering VoIP Providers with 911 Services, but Tracking and Routing Issues Remain

Article excerpt

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently has been opening its ears more to issues surrounding Voice over IP (VoIP), including the 911 capabilities of VoIP providers--or lack thereof for some. In May FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced a mandate requiring such providers to incorporate 911 services into their offerings.

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Only weeks earlier Vonage Holdings announced a partnership with Verizon to offer its customers E911 (enhanced 911) service, a technology that locates an emergency caller's position. As a result, Vonage will be able to supply 911 call center operators with the caller's number and location. Vonage also has agreements with other phone companies, including Bell-South and SBC Communications, to gain access to their E911 systems.

Issues surrounding 911 and VoIP still exist, however. Unlike traditional phones, on which the caller's location is provided to the call center operator, 911 calls made using VoIP can pose a serious routing concern. A VoIP customer with a mobile handset can have, say, a California-based phone number, but actually be in New York, leaving a window of uncertainty as to where the call is really located, and therefore, what 911 call center to route the call to. There may also be instances where calls may not be routed to a live agent. For example, with Vonage, which is facing legal battles accusing it of misleading customers about the limitations of its E911 capabilities, VoIP customers must provide it with their new location when they move or travel. …

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