TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: AT&T Internet VOIP Service to Require Fixed Location

AT&T Internet VOIP Service to Require Fixed Location

Reuters News Wire (
Tue, 11 Oct 2005 22:22:06 -0500

AT&T Corp. said on Tuesday it would suspend Internet phone service for
subscribers who fail to keep their location up to date when they
move around with the mobile service. Unlike Vonage and other VOIP
carriers, which permit traveling with an adapter, AT&T will not
permit it; even though it is technically possible, AT&T will not
permit it under their regulations effective in November.

Internet telephone service, known as Voice over Internet Protocol, can
be used anywhere a subscriber has a high-speed Internet connection,
which are becoming more common around the world.

That mobility has prompted concerns by U.S. communications regulators
who worry that if a subscriber does not register his location in the
United States, emergency authorities may not be able to find the
person if he dials 911 for help.

The Federal Communications Commission in May ordered VOIP carriers to
provide 911 emergency services by November 28, including connecting
calls directly to dispatchers.

Carriers, like AT&T and the biggest U.S. VOIP provider, Vonage
Holdings Corp., will also have to provide callers' numbers and
addresses to dispatchers. There are about 3 million subscribers in the
United States to VOIP, a cheaper alternative to traditional phone

AT&T said it would use a telephone adapter to determine when a VOIP
phone has been disconnected from the network and reconnected, prompting
a query to the subscriber to confirm or update his or her location.

The customer can either confirm the location has not changed or receive
directions for updating it.

"If the customer confirms that she has moved her service from the
existing registered location address, service will remain suspended
until she registers a new primary location address," Robert Quinn, AT&T
vice president for federal government affairs, said in an October 7
letter to the FCC.

The subscriber still would be able to dial 911, according to Quinn.
However, AT&T said there is not yet a way to confirm the customer's

"This is the best technology has to offer at this time," AT&T
spokeswoman Claudia Jones said. The FCC has said it eventually plans
to require carriers to provide the customer's location on their own.

AT&T said it would not offer to new customers its VOIP service in
areas after November 28 where the company cannot provide 911

The company, the No. 1 long-distance carrier, is being acquired by SBC
Communications Inc., the No. 2 local telephone company.

The FCC adopted the rules after several high-profile incidents in
which people only reached an administrative or business line at a 911
emergency call center when they used a VOIP phone.

The requirements only apply to those providers that connect calls to
and from the public telephone network.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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