TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: VOIP: 911 - Vonage vs Time-Warner Roadrunner

Re: VOIP: 911 - Vonage vs Time-Warner Roadrunner

Thor Lancelot Simon (
Fri, 29 Apr 2005 18:53:07 UTC

In article <>, TELECOM Digest Editor
responded to <>:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Apparently, the only players in the
> game who can get 'true E-911' are the telcos themselves or any of
> their friends. Others have to pay for the service, and the cost was
> pretty steep until recently when under pressure SBC agreed to begin
> working with Vonage and other VOIP carriers. The reason this is so
> is because when 'true E-911' was being developed, telco had it built
> to _their_ specifications. PAT]

That's utterly bogus, Mr. Moderator, and I wish you'd restrict your
editorial commentary to topics you actually knew something about. It
seems pretty clear to me that trunk engineering in the backbone voice
network is not such a topic.

The incumbent local carriers built first basic 911, and then enhanced
911 (E911) service to meet _standards externally imposed on them by
the FCC and state regulators_. The standards called for what some
might think of as an absurdly high level of service, but, in the
heavily regulated environment of the time, the local carriers
shrugged, said "sure, we'll do it, just let us get the money back as
revenue", and overengineered the service as requested. The result was
a service that was extremely robust but that imposed significant costs
for every switch you wanted to connect to it.

Now along comes a new kind of carrier that wants to connect to the
infrastructure for that same service, but that wants the incumbent
carriers to bear the cost of allowing the new carrier to connect to
the infrastructure in a totally different way -- so that the new
carrier can avoid the cost of having to connect the old way, which
allows it (the new carrier) to maintain a price advantage over the old
carrier by not having to include the rather large cost of the
infrastructure to do E911 interconnection in its cost basis.

Surprise, surprise, the old carriers cry foul and say that the new
carrier isn't entitled to connect in a different way and force the old
carriers to pay to figure out how to let the new carrier connect a in
the new way. And the new carrier, very politically savvy, goes to its
friends in government and to the media and tries to paint it as if the
whole debate isn't about the new carrier avoiding costs that everyone
else in the industry has to pay for 911 service -- instead, it's those
nasty old carriers who are "refusing" to let the new carrier connect
to 911 service.

To be plain, that's horsepuckey. Vonage didn't *feel like paying what
everyone else had to pay for 911 interconnection* -- software for SS7
signaling in their gateway switches, special trunks into every PSAP in
every LATA they serve, and so forth -- and so they just didn't pay it
-- while suckering people in the media, which seems to include,
notably, Jack Decker and you yourself, Mr. Moderator, into helping
them paint their *choice* to not provide 911 service, so they could
have lower costs and underprice other carriers, as something that
other carriers were forcing on them.

All you need to see that that's not true is the example of more
responsible, and less politically adept, VOIP carriers who have done
the right thing instead of cutting corners, and who therefore *do*
provide E911 service: Packet8, the cable companies' in-house VOIP
telcos, and so forth. Surprise, surprise: their services cost more --
because being irresponsible about 911 service gives Vonage lower
costs. But it is ridiculous to blame anyone but Vonage for the fact
that Vonage has refused to pay the costs of traditional 911
interconnection and therefore does not provide actual 911 service.

Thor Lancelot Simon

"The inconsistency is startling, though admittedly, if consistency is
to be abandoned or transcended, there is no problem." - Noam Chomsky

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