TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: FCC's 911 Move a Trojan Horse? Critics Charge They're Engineering

FCC's 911 Move a Trojan Horse? Critics Charge They're Engineering

Jack Decker (
Wed, 18 May 2005 21:11:52 -0400

FCC's 911 Move a Trojan Horse?
Critics Charge They're Engineering Death of Indie VoIP
Written by Karl Bode

Tomorrow the FCC will release an order that forces all independent
VoIP providers to offer 911 service within 120 days. On the surface
the move seems like a simple way of ensuring public safety, but
critics believe it's really an incumbent engineered attempt to crush
upstart VoIP competitors.

There's been a scattered number of deaths blamed on VoIP -- whether or
not the VoIP provider was actually culpable hasn't mattered to
some news outlets. Vonage has also been sued for "failing to inform
users they need to activate their 911 service" before it will work;
apparently this welcome screen every customer sees was simply too mystical.

Such concerns, valid or not, have resulted in a growing cry for action
on the federal level. So the FCC issues a ruling that requires upstart
VoIP providers to provide 911 service.

An honest move to ensure public safety, right?

Not according to the TechKnow Times :

"They (indie VoIP providers) were in the market space first, they
have far better offerings, and much better pricing as well. So how
to kill them? Simple. Force them to have to buy a service where
the traditional telephone companies can set the price. And what is
one thing that the traditional phone companies still pretty much
have a monopoly on? The provision of 911 service."

Jeff Pulver, co-founder of Vonage and the man behind Free-World
dial-up, hasn't been optimistic either. An entry to his blog
questioning the FCC move was apparently met with harsh criticism. From
a follow up post :

"I have had much internal debate over how to approach what we
believe the FCC is doing to the industry this week, and, frankly,
I felt compelled to speak up, aware of the potential political
consequences. I have deep concerns that the FCC is going to
drastically overreach (like swatting a fly with a nuclear bomb)
and bring down the VoIP industry."

Pulver worries that "2005 may go down in history as the time we saw
both the rise and fall of the unaffiliated VoIP service provider."
Evident by discussion in our VoIP forum,13433727 , others are
also worried that the move is an opening salvo in the slaughter of
indie providers by a well lobbied FCC.

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