FCC to Rule on 911 for Web Phone Services

While on the surface this may not seem like that big a deal, the reality is that 911 for Web phone services is certainly a big deal and a touchy topic as well.

After a decade of wrangling between government and the wireless industry, there’s still no certainty that when a cell phone is used to dial 911 an emergency dispatcher will automatically know the caller’s location or phone number.

Now, with the rise of another new telephone technology, Internet-based calling, officials appear determined to avoid a repeat of that wireless experience, as well as recent incidents where 911 calls from Internet phones went unanswered.

So on Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to set a firm deadline for providers of the new service — known as VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol — to deliver the same 911 capabilities as regular phones, the vast majority of which can be located in a crisis.

The expected order, which may allow as little as 120 days for compliance, would follow months of finger-pointing and bickering between VoIP carriers and the traditional local phone companies who own the network connections to the nation’s nearly 6,200 “public safety answer points.” [Read the rest]

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