TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: E-911 Making Headway in VOIP

Re: E-911 Making Headway in VOIP

David (FlyLikeAnEagle@United.Com)
Mon, 01 Aug 2005 01:26:23 GMT

On Sun, 31 Jul 2005 07:03:41 UTC, wrote:

> Wayne Rash wrote:

>> Things change when you're not connected to the phone company's
>> lines. Cell phone users, for example, are connected to their wireless
>> provider. Until recently, the best the wireless company could do was
>> to have a general idea of the area of the caller, accurate perhaps to
>> several square miles. Now, with more accurate location being mandated,
>> phones can be located using other means, including GPS (Global
>> Positioning System) receivers embedded in many phones.

> GPS works only outdoors in a relatively open area. It never works
> indoors except perhaps when right next to a very large window with
> plain glass.

> This is the problem with technology that is not well understood by
> those who propose using it for solutions under less than robust
> circumstances.

The basic problem with the VOIP Technology, as it relates to 911 and
related emergency services, is that the location of the caller needs
to be known to help deliver the call to the desired destination. In
the USA, calls to 9-1-1 (general emergency, police, fire, and
ambulance) and related local service numbers (information, local
services) would need to have the callers location available. Ideally,
this would be in a form that the destination system could use. Local
service numbers might need a community address. The USA definition of
E9-1-1 would prefer a more specific address or possibly a less
definite GPS origin.

There are many possible solutions to this problem. Unfortunately
there is no widely established standard for a VOIP Device or internet
connected computer system to specify its location. Since no standard
exists, many competing standards are likely to emerge that will solve
some portion of the problem but not for everyone. It will take a few
years for a unified response to the problem of locating internet based

I have seen solutions that enable VOIP Devices to be identified within
known network bounds -- say a building or company address. Certainly
VOIP Devices used as a replacement for standard wireline phones will
be easy to locate. However, as such phones move into the wild, as a
Vonage-like phone is intended to be used, the location quickly becomes

As a few unfortunate callers have learned, a standard such as "calling
911" is only as good as the underlying system that supports it.
Hopefully the powers-that-be will encourage the necessary components
to be linked together to establish a workable system. Until then, try
to understand the limits of whatever system you choose to use and what
the proper methods of contacting local services would be.


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