TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Internet Phone Companies May Cut Off Customers

Re: Internet Phone Companies May Cut Off Customers

Paul Coxwell (
Fri, 26 Aug 2005 16:48:53 +0100

> Providers of Internet-based phone services may be forced next week to
> cut off tens of thousands of customers who haven't formally
> acknowledged that they understand the problems they may encounter
> dialing 911 in an emergency.

> The Federal Communications Commission had set the Monday deadline as
> an interim safeguard while providers of Internet calling, also known
> as "VoIP" for Voice over Internet Protocol, rush to comply with an FCC
> order requiring full emergency 911 capabilities by late November.

> Vonage Holdings Corp., the biggest VoIP carrier with more than 800,000
> subscribers, told The Associated Press Wednesday that 96 percent of
> its customer base have responded to the company's notices about 911
> risks. But that still means as many as 31,000 accounts would need to
> be shut off as early as Tuesday.

I can't help but ponder upon the irony that a ruling intended to make
people aware of how the service may not work as they believe could
result in the service being withdrawn altogether, so they won't be
able to place ANY call.

To hear the fuss, it kind of makes me wonder how anybody ever managed
before 911.

I know when I was down in Georgia around 1992/93 there were still
quite a few of the more rural counties which had no 911 service at
all, so it's not as though we're talking about ancient history either.

- Paul

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Also see the news report in this issue
from Reuters which stated that several VOIP carriers, including
AT&T, have filed an emergency request for a further extension of time
from FCC.

Like yourself, I do not know how people managed to get by from the
start of dial or automated telephony until (in most communities) the
advent of 911 back around the early/middle 1980's ... Does anyone
remember when the standard that AT&T set up for the operating
companies called for police emergency to be (prefix)-1313 or
(prefix)-2121 and fire emergencies to be (prefix)-2131. In large
cities such as Chicago, where there were many exchanges and calls
were routed automatically through internal telco switches they often
times used POLice-1313 and FIRe-1313. In cases where there were
two separate and distinct communities (each with own PD or FD) but
sharing one phone exchange, where one community was '2121' and '2131'
the other community would be '2181' and '2191' for police and
fire respectively. Where 911 I guess was an improvement was that when
someone reported their house was on fire, they would often times
be in a panic and tell the dispatcher, "help, house on fire at
3200 Halsted Street" and slam the phone down and run off (to get
away from the fire), but neglect to say if firemen were wanted at
3200 _North_ Halsted or 3200 _South_ Halsted, a difference in driving
of about seven miles, so of course Fire had to dispatch _two_ companies,
one to each location, and at least one company came back empty-handed.

That is, unless both of them came back from a dry run; it was not
uncommon in those days for idiots to deliberatly call in a false
alarm. In the 1960's, when it seems with Vietnam everyone was anti-
everything, Chicago Fire Department in one year alone (1965 I think)
responded to over six thousand deliberate false alarms. 911 pinned it
down a little closer than the old system of a huge map on the wall and
beehive lamps from telco which lighted up in the _general vicinity_ on
the map where police/fire was needed. PAT]

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