VoIP providers grapple with emergency calls

by admin March 8, 2006 at 5:12 pm

“We’re making progress but it’s extremely complex”

US federal regulators have spent much of the past year prodding internet phone providers to link their customers to the enhanced 911 system but accomplishing that goal is no small feat, industry representatives said on Tuesday.

The enhanced 911, or E911, system is a step up from the basic 911 system in that it supplies emergency call operators with the caller’s geographical location and callback phone number. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decreed that such E911 service must be mandatory and new customers will be denied the option of choosing voice over IP (VoIP) service without it.

Mary Boyd, a vice president at Intrado, which offers net phone providers database technology designed to deliver such information to public safety operators, said: “We’re making progress but it’s extremely complex.” Boyd participated in a panel discussion at a conference in Virginia sponsored by the National Emergency Number Association (Nena), a strong proponent of improving 911 technology. Others on the panel included representatives from Verizon Communications and Vonage.

One obstacle lies in the maintenance of the database, known as the Master Street Address Guide, which stores a 911 dialler’s location information. Because in many cases it’s up to net phone users to update that address, the address is not always accurate, said Roger Hixson, Nena’s technical issues director.

Full article: silicon.com