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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