TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Vonage Changes 911 to Opt-Out

Re: Vonage Changes 911 to Opt-Out

DevilsPGD (
Sun, 15 May 2005 18:28:47 -0600

In message <> TELECOM Digest Editor
noted in response to DevilsPGD <>:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I wonder how this scheme would work ...
> any calls to 911 from a VOIP get intercepted by the broadband ISP
> who is handling the connection. The IP address in use (and its
> physical address) get transmitted 'like ANI' to the local police. The
> 'ANI-like' information passed along (from wherever) to the PSAP
> identifies it as a VOIP from address (registered with the ISP for the
> IP street address.) Am I correct in my assumption that most stationary
> computers with broadband stay in the same place and they are almost
> always on the same IP address as well? I know in my instance I have
> been for however long, here at the same street
> address, etc. Can't those two items (IP and street address) often as
> not be matched? PAT]

IP and street address? -- Only your ISP can match it, and then, only
to your billing records which may or may not be accurate.

If the user is dialing up, what you need is the ANI information of
their dialup, along with the E911 lookup of *that* ANI information.

If the user is on a fixed broadband service, you can at least take a
stab at pointing an address. However, with most PPPoE broadband
networks, you can take your VoIP gear anywhere on that ISP's network
and connect up, and the broadband provider won't know the difference.
With DHCP, they can probably tell, but most ISPs only note where the
lease is given out -- You can actually move to another location and
reconnect without renewing your lease and depending on the
configuration of the network, it will work.

It gets more complex then that, not all "retail" ISPs actually have
any equipment, much of the time they lease access from a wholesale
provider in the area. This is especially true of dialup, but it
happens with broadband too (Think @Home as the best example), which
means that there is another layer of obfuscation since the
connectivity provider may not know your name or phone number, and
depending on the setup, may not even have a physical address (cable
networks, for instance, don't need any setup from the cable plant in
the area to establish a connection, 100% of the work is done from the
end user's location and can be done by a completely different service

Lastly, there is the privacy issue -- Once ISPs have the
infrastructure to instantly provide a name+address+whatever that
matches to an ISP, how long before law enforcement demands access to
that database? Without warrants, in the name of fighting Bin Laden or
Saddam or whoever is annoying the-powers-that-be today, of course.

Next the MPAA+RIAA will be demanding access to this information. Then
Microsoft will tuck a note into the EULA that they reserve the right
to look up this information when you activate Windows.

Next will be collection agencies and repo agents, and we know how good
at noticing that a phone number was reassigned they are -- How long
before you get a phone number which was reassigned from a deadbeat and
a repo man shows up and steals your car thinking it was the previous
owner of the phone number?

And all of this is assuming that thousands of ISPs cooperate in
implementing the system securely and that it never gets compromised.

"Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong"
-- Dennis Miller.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Dialup (56K) generally is too slow to
work with VOIP. And if you _were_ using dialup and needed to call
police, why wouldn't you just disconnect the modem and make your call
to the police instead? And regards all the 'other people' who might
wish to get your physical address, if they need to go through the ISP
(instead of a regular criss-cross directory which is easier) the ISP
would still require the 'other people' to get a court order wouldn't
they? And upon getting the court order and returning with it to the
ISP, then the ISP would give them the same information as now,
matching when possible, traffic records of IP address to real party,
etc. PAT]

In message <>

> Mark Peters wrote:

>> A big problem is visitors, especially children who have been taught
>> to dial 911 in case of an emergency. A device that looks like a
>> phone and provides dial tone is expected to behave like a phone
>> which includes 911. 911 should not be opt-in or opt-out. 911 should
>> be there. E911 is the goal.

> It's not just children.

> From reading messages in the newgroup, it appears that the
> technocrats assume everybody out there is as tech-savy as they are.
> The reality is that the vast majority of the people have no clue as to
> what VOIP even is, let alone how it works or its limitations. To
> expect another person to know the phone isn't 911 equipped is
> ludicrous. The goal of 911 is to have a universal help number so a
> stranger/outsider can get help quickly in an emergency.

Sure, but at least a competent adult will hear and understand the
warning that this phone can't dial 911 and will go elsewhere for help.

Again, it's better to provide no appearance of help then the appearance
of assistance when no help is coming.

There is nothing wrong with telling the drowning man you can't save him,
but if you tell him you WILL save him and he stops screaming for help
(expecting you to save him) and you don't, you're guilty of criminally
negligent homicide.

Same principle here: If I call 911 and say "Help my house is on fire,
I'm trapped in my bedroom with the guy from chainsaw massacre, my wife
is giving birth, and 'I've fallen and I can't get up'" and the 911
operator says that someone is on the way, I'll wait for help.
Meanwhile, the 911 operator was three states away and just sent the
fire department, police, an ambulance, and a guy with a 2x4 to the
wrong house and I'm left to burn, get sliced up, get my wife pissed
off because I don't know what I'm doing, and left writhing on the

On the other hand, if I am immediately informed that no help is
coming, I'll know that I either need to use a lifeline and call a
friend for help, scream for the audience (neighbours?) to help me,
escape myself, or that I AM the weakest link.

911 for everyone, everywhere, is a great idea. However, it's at direct
odds with mobile VoIP unless you can force people to enter their current
address when they move the device. Vonage's 3-10 business day wait
before changes are reflected doesn't help either, but it's still not
reasonable that I will update my address twice a day as I carry my VoIP
hardware from my house to my office and back again.

Something needs to be done, but frankly, I'm not seeing the solution
even with a relative infinite amount of money.

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