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

Internet Phone Customers May Get Cut Off

Reuters News Wire (
Mon, 7 Nov 2005 17:32:42 -0600

Roughly 750,000 of the estimated 2.5 million Internet telephone
customers may have service turned off because providers cannot offer
enhanced 911 service, according to a survey on Monday by Voice On the
Net Coalition.

The Federal Communications Commission ordered providers to suspend
service by November 28 to customers who will not have enhanced 911
services, which includes providing dispatchers a caller's number and

The agency's order followed several instances where Voice over
Internet Protocol (VOIP) subscribers had trouble reaching help when
they dialed 911 for help. In several cases, calls went to business
lines instead of emergency dispatchers.

Most of those who would have to be disconnected would have only basic
911 access, and are residential customers who use their service in
multiple locations, the VON Coalition said.

The group said hurdles facing VOIP providers to offer enhanced 911
service include accessing the necessary databases, the short time
frame, and technological limits. The survey included a dozen VOIP
providers like Vonage Holdings Corp.

Nuvio Corp. and other VOIP providers last week filed an emergency
appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit seeking a stay of the FCC order while it challenges the

The providers argued, among other things, that they had only 120 days
to comply with the requirements, while other telecommunications
services like wireless had much more time.

The FCC has until Tuesday to respond. Last week FCC Chairman Kevin
Martin defended the deadline.

Many Internet phone services can be used anywhere there is a
high-speed Internet connection, but such mobility forces callers to
identify their current location for enhanced 911 service to work.

Less than half of the dozen VOIP providers surveyed, 42 percent, said
they would be able to provide enhanced 911 service to 100 percent of
their customers with a primary fixed location, according to VON.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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