Light Reading

VOIP 911 Still Trails Wireline

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
8/4/2004
50%
50%

The Vonage Holdings Corp. service outage this week again highlighted the difference between POTS and VOIP phone services (see Vonage Spreads the Blame). But one of those differences -- the kinds of 911 services provided -- is set to go away over the next several months, VOIP providers say.

According to some VOIP carriers, they'll be able to offer "enhanced 911" (E911) services within a year. E911 service refers to the ability to route calls directly to an emergency dispatcher with the caller’s address and phone number appearing automatically.

Most VOIP 911 calls are routed through public safety access points (PSAPs) -- facilities where an operator can alert emergency response agencies. But it's noteworthy that these PSAPs don't have Data Management System/Automatic Location Identification (DMS/ALI) systems, which allow operators to immediately identify the caller's location.

Some VOIP providers and cable operators offer the ability to subscribe to E911 services. They often charge for the privilege, however. VOIP provider 8x8 Inc. (Nasdaq: EGHT), which has about 1,700 subscribers, charges a $9.95 setup fee, plus $3 a month for the service, for example (see Bye Bye, Bob!).

And even with E911 available, most VOIP providers push consumers to seek emergency services elsewhere. User agreements from 8x8, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), and other VOIP providers advise consumers to "maintain an alternative means of accessing traditional 911 services."

“Today, one solution is registering your location with a VOIP provider when you sign up for service so that when you dial 911, that call is routed to a dispatcher,” says Jim Kohlenberger, spokesman for the Voice On the Net (VON) Coalition, a group of Internet telephony companies. “It’s still a 911-type call.”

The quest for E911 everywhere is complicated by the fact that VOIP carriers aren't regulated, so they don't have access to E911 selective routers. So, for a while, each provider must come up with a solution and pass the cost on to consumers.

Intrado Inc. is working on a solution that would route calls to E911 selective routers with what looks like a local telephone number. The selective router would then process the number to a PSAP dispatcher.

AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) expects to offer VOIP users E911 in six to nine months, says spokesman Thomas Hopkins. AT&T’s subscribers must now supply an address and number. "We have found that customers are more focused on the features and the economy of the service [than on 911]," says Hopkins. Most people, he added, have a cell phone for emergencies and "many users maintain another traditional copper phone line."

Vonage, which has about 220,000 VOIP lines in service, expects to offer customers E911 next year, according to Louis Holder, executive VP of product development at Vonage.

Interestingly, Vonage says 80 percent of its subscribers are residential and half of those customers use its service as their primary line.

There are other differences worth noting between landline 911 and VOIP 911. With VOIP services, even E911, the emergency service won’t work if the caller’s address doesn’t match the one registered. Also, VOIP users can’t dial 911 during a power, Internet, or other network outage.

“A selling point of VOIP is that it's portable,” says Kevin Mitchell, directing analyst at Infonetics Research Inc. “You can go somewhere else and plug in there. But then 911 won’t work correctly. You have to register your new geographic location, but it takes days for this to be processed.”

Analysts say 911 will be a big deal as VOIP attracts a wider group of users and more households choose VOIP for their primary phone line. “It’s not affecting adoption right now,” says Mitchell. "But for mass adoption, and to avoid massive lawsuits, this has to be figured out."

"There were a total of 131,000 VOIP subscribers in 2003, a number that's expected to grow to about 980,000 in 2004," according to Danny Klein, a senior analyst at The Yankee Group.

And, though not all VOIP services are on a par with landline 911 services yet, equipment vendors and VOIP providers envision a smarter emergency system. They see one that would identify a caller’s location and route calls to the nearest PSAP regardless of the caller's pre-registered address (see Nortel Joins VOIP Research Project).

“We’re on a pathway to getting to something that is better than the traditional 911 services... The goal is an actual PSAP that is on an IP-based network,” says VON's Kohlenberger.

— Joanna Sabatini, special to Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Against the odds, Huawei is growing its telecoms networking equipment business in the US -- that should be ringing some alarm bells for domestic vendors.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Jeff Miller, ActiveVideo

8|28|15   |   19:05   |   (0) comments


Jeff Miller, President and CEO of ActiveVideo, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the impact of virtualization on the TV and video distribution market.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Vodafone: Mobile Money Is About Customer Trust

8|27|15   |   06.36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading spoke with Vodafone's Ian Ravenscroft about the unique responsibilities and opportunities facing operators handling customers' financial transactions over the network.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Palo Alto Networks on Expanding in the Carrier/Service Provider Market

8|26|15   |   07:54   |   (0) comments


Alfred Lee from Palo Alto Networks tells Steve Saunders about their new chassis-based system, the PA-7080, and how it can benefit service providers compared to legacy firewalls.
LRTV Custom TV
Global Services Forum Preview

8|25|15   |   02:36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders talks about Huawei's upcoming Global Services Forum with the help of Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan and Teresa Mastrangelo.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Infoblox on DNS Threat Index

8|19|15   |   04:39   |   (0) comments


Dilip Pillaipakam from Infoblox talks to Steve Saunders about his company's core network services.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Ihab Tarazi, Equinix

8|14|15   |   20:18   |   (1) comment


Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the dramatic changes in the data center, cloud and interconnect markets and discusses the impact of SDN and NFV in the coming years.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
The Netformx Ecosystem

8|14|15   |   09:39   |   (1) comment


Ittai Bareket, CEO of Netformx, talks with Steve Saunders about the Netformx Ecosystem, which employs cutting-edge prescriptive analytics to help solution providers maximize profits.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks on Leveraging VNFs

8|12|15   |   07:37   |   (0) comments


Kumar Mehta, founder and CEO of stealth mode startup Versa Networks, talks with Steve Saunders about how providers can best leverage virtualized network functions (VNFs).
LRTV Custom TV
Transforming the Network Through OPNFV

8|5|15   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Sandra Rivera, VP Data Center Group; GM Network Platforms Group, Intel Corporation, on OPNFV Arno and how the industry is coming together to accelerate the deployment of NFV and transform the network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei ONS Product Demo

8|3|15   |   6:01   |   (0) comments


Huawei shows at Open Networking Summit 2015 in Santa Clara how its SDN and NFV solutions embrace openness.
LRTV Custom TV
End-User or Enterprise Benefits to the New IP

7|30|15   |   04:27   |   (1) comment


Andrew Coward discusses what the New IP means to end users or enterprise customers. He explains compelling reasons, including how every customer can get their own network, from the transformation to the New IP.
LRTV Custom TV
Network Visibility & the New IP

7|30|15   |   02:23   |   (0) comments


Mukund Srigopal provides an explanation of what network visibility is and how it is essential as service providers transition to the New IP. In addition, the importance of the network packet broker is discussed.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Cisco's cloud and virtualization portfolio can increase business agility and innovation by building a more flexible network architecture.
Hot Topics
Verizon Hums a Driving Tune
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 8/26/2015
Gogo Approved to Speed Up In-Flight WiFi
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 8/24/2015
Could Market Volatility Hurt Tech IPOs?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/24/2015
Sprint's Claure: '3 to 5 Years' to Turnaround
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
September 22, 2015
Media Begins With “Me”
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Jeff Miller, President and CEO of ActiveVideo, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the impact of virtualization on the TV and video distribution market.
Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about data center, cloud and the impact of virtualization in the coming years.
Cats with Phones
Cats Are a Smartphone's Best Friend Click Here
Whoever said cats didn't live to please their humans?