TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Will 911 Difficulties Derail VoIP?

Re: Will 911 Difficulties Derail VoIP?

Fri, 13 May 2005 16:44:39 -0700

In article <>, Dean M.
<> wrote in response to AES
<> proposal regarding VOIP and 911 service:

> I'm a little perplexed by your speculation. Why would a move to VoIP
> have anything to do with killing off use of cable/fiber/copper for
> telco services? Are you predicting a move to a completely wireless
> service provision or am I just misunderstanding your comments? And if
> indeed you are predicting a move to an entirely wireless world, why
> are you portraying VoIP as the cause for this? Can you elaborate?

> Dean

Apologies if I'm not making myself clear.

1) It seems likely that in the not too distant future telephone
service will be almost entirely provided by (or thru) VOIP. And,
there seem to be real technical difficulties -- in particular serious
"caller location identification" difficulties -- associated with
providing 911 service to VOIP phones.

Therefore I'm trying to envision a future situation (admittedly
hypothetical at this point) in which telephone service will no longer
necessarily be directly linked to 911 service, and a telco connection
will no longer be presumed (or legally required) to include 911
capability -- or alternatively where 911 emergency response to calls
from a given location will no longer necessarily be provided or
connected to emergency providers through the telephone network.

2) As a prelude to this, I'm noting that I, and many other residences
and businesses, will likely in the near future obtain our telephone
service and also our broadband Internet access either via a cable
connection, or via a neighborhood or municipal wireless service, or
via a cell phone connection, or via a fiber-to-the-premises
connection, rather than via a conventional twisted-pair telephone wire
to our premises.

If (or rather when) that happens I, and many others, will no longer
need those copper telephone wires (twisted pairs) that currently come
directly from a telco central office (CO) into our homes or
businesses. (Of course if our broadband Internet connection happens
to be DSL we will continue to need that telephone twisted pair, though
we won't need classic phone service on that wire any more, unless
we're really backward and still use a modem.)

3) Nonetheless, all the current telephone twisted pairs between
premises and telco COs will continue to exist, unless they're
deliberately ripped out or allowed to deteriorate. And even for new
homes and buildings ("greenfields construction") there's no technical
reason that similar twisted pairs can't be brought into these new
premises as part of the cable TV connection, or the fiber, or even
just the electrical power wiring.

4) So, let's think about how we might use these existing and any new
copper twisted pairs, not for telephone any more, but for other
"utility" purposes -- possibly including a new kind of 911 service.
In fact, let's refer to these wires, beginning at that point in time,
not as "telephone wires" but as "utility service wires".

5) So, here are just some off the cuff thoughts as to useful services
that could be provided over these utility wires, earning income for
some utility service provider in the process:

a) The telco won't be able to get income any more from selling telco
service over it's telephone wires -- pardon me, utility wires -- and
it therefore won't need banks of telephone switches to service those
wires in its CO any more. So, maybe it will sell all this
infrastructure to "utility providers", or maybe it will go into the
"utility" business itself.

b) One utility service could be a variant of 911 service. That is, in
case of an emergency instead of dialing 911 you just push a red alarm
button on a kind of intercom box in your house or office and it
connects you over the utility wires to your "utility CO" (which was
once your telco CO). This utility CO then connects you -- perhaps
automatically -- to the 911 emergency dispatch setup in your town.

c) Or, maybe you still dial 911 on your VOIP phone -- but instead of
treating this as a VOIP call, your PC connects it to the utility
wires, which are still connected into your home LAN. (If you move
your VOIP phone to a new location in another town, and connect it to
the PC in the new location, that PC will still do the right thing for
your VOIP call.)

d) Using add'l hardware and working with the utility service provider,
your local gas, electric and water providers will read your meters,
not by some "dial-in" call on the VOIP network, but by a hard-wired
connection over the utility service wires.

e) Commercial "always on" burglar alarm and security services can be
provided over the utility wires by security services that work with or
are part of the utility service providers.

f) Ditto fire alarm services.

g) The emergency medical pushbutton gadget that your elderly grandma,
who lives alone, wears on her wrist to call for help could communicate
not over her VOIP telephone service, but over the utility service

And so on for lots and lots of other things. (And note that one of
the featured advantages of VOIP telco service is that you can take
your VOIP phone with you and get into the Internet anywhere -- but
these local utility services are inherently local in character, and
are much better hardwired into a *local* structure, with no need for
the Internet.)

6) Bottom line: I recognize there would be lots of thorny problems
(including major economic and public policy issues) in getting from
the systems we have now to some new scheme like this; and very likely
some downsides and practical problems that I haven't even thought of.

But just maybe, at some point, the very tight connection between
telephone service and 911 emergency service that we're so familiar
with now could evolve so that 911 and telco were more or less
completely de-linked, with both needs met in innovative and more
effective new ways. I'm just trying to do some thinking about how
that might happen.

So, comments welcomed ...

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