TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: VOIP in Public-Safety Showdown

VOIP in Public-Safety Showdown

Jack Decker (jack-yahoogroups@withheld_on_request)
Wed, 18 May 2005 08:43:06 -0400,1282,67557,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1

By Michael Grebb

WASHINGTON -- Internet phone providers are facing static over alleged
public-safety failings, with federal regulators poised to unveil new
rules that could drive up prices and crimp growth.

VOIP providers insist they are not against providing 911 support, but
they have balked at requirements that might increase their costs and
give rival Bell operating companies a choke point to slow or prevent
their entry into themarket.

Rich Tehrani, chairman of the Internet Telephony Conference, said that
the VOIP industry generally supports the concept of offering 911
capabilities but has urged extreme caution.

"I support any initiative that may save lives and keep human beings
safe," Tehrani said. "On the other hand, I am concerned that
regulation may make it difficult to provide inexpensive VOIP service."

Tehrani said the industry is pretty much holding its breath in
anticipation of Thursday's action.

"Depending on how drastic the FCC rules are, it may be impossible to
comply in the short term," he said. "Some providers may not be able to
afford to comply."

Vonage spokesman Chris Murray said much will hinge on the incumbent
local exchange carriers, or LECs, that control access to the 911
switching centers -- known as public-safety answering points, or

According to Murray, incumbent LECs have been reluctant to provide
PSAP access to VOIP providers voluntarily. Lack of access to PSAPs
contributed to the Texas incident and similar cases of people not
being able to reach 911 operators, he said. "If we had had that
access, we wouldn't have had these incidents," he said.

Some consumer advocates, who generally support 911 capabilities for
VOIP, have also urged the FCC to link any VOIP 911 requirement to
rules that force the incumbent telcos to cooperate.

"We don't want to see a requirement on VOIP providers to do 911 but
not require it to be implemented quickly by requiring the (local phone
monopolies) to work with them," said Janee Briesemeister, senior
policy analyst at Consumers Union.

Full story at:,1282,67557,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1

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