Light Reading

Texas: Vonage 911 Is a Joke

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
3/24/2005
50%
50%

Vonage Holdings Corp. says it intends to quickly settle its legal tangle with the State of Texas and its Attorney General, Greg Abbott.

Or maybe it will fight back.

"Yes, we are going to try to settle it," says Brooke Schulz, Vonage's VP of corporate relations. "We are going to sit down with them and try to reach an agreement that is favorable for everybody. Whether we settle or defend, they are both ways of settling."

Background: The Texas Attorney General announced this week that it is suing Vonage, claiming that the VOIP provider is misrepresenting its service as a real phone service -- allegedly Vonage implies that dialing 911 from one of its lines would yield the same results as would using a phone connected to the PSTN.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in Houston when a teenage girl had to run to a neighbor's house to call 911 while her parents were assaulted and shot during a robbery. The family were Vonage customers, but their phone was useless as they didn't properly activate Vonage's 911 service.

But it's not as if they weren't warned, Vonage says.

“There are a lot of disclosures we make to our customers about E911," Schulz says. "During the subscription process there are several reminders that our 911 service is different and that there is a need for the customer to activate it.”

Schulz says that the extra steps required to turn on Vonage's version of enhanced 911 (E911) is available “within two clicks” of entering the company's Web site. New Vonage customers encounter reminders about the E911 service at the beginning and at the end of the online subscription process, Schulz says.

“At the front page of [a customer's] Web account there is a big red sign that tells you it’s not automatic,” she says.

So what's the difference between real 911 and VOIP 911? Location, location, location.

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 often don't have Data Management System/Automatic Location Identification (DMS/ALI) systems, which allow operators to immediately identify the caller's location (see VOIP 911 Still Trails Wireline).

The Texas AG's lawsuit alleges that Vonage is deceiving consumers by not revealing in its television commercials and on sales calls that customers must take extra steps to turn on its 911 service. "Even after signing up, there are limitations to the service that Vonage customers may never know about unless they read the fine print buried on the company’s Web site," the AG's press release contends.

The suit invokes the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and asks the courts to take measures to stop Vonage from allegedly misrepresenting its 911 capabilities. It seeks damages of $20,000 per violation, but there's no mention of how many alleged violations have occurred.

For its part, Vonage says it will work to put this behind it, which may lead to a settlement. "We are looking forward to working with the Texas Attorney General to resolve this issue," Schulz says. "We still have not talked to them directly."

"They sent us a letter last week asking us for a few different things like a list of our resellers in Texas, and how many customers we have in Texas, but we had no idea they were going to file suit against us -- it came as a complete surprise.

"We didn’t even get a courtesy call.”

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, and Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

(12)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
opticalwatcher
50%
50%
opticalwatcher,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:22:04 AM
re: Texas: Vonage 911 Is a Joke
Vonage should simply not allow phone service to start until the E911 service is registered. Then this wouldn't have happened in Texas.

They can even require a new registration if the IP address changes drastically (which implies that it was moved and not just a dynamic IP assignment).

For something as critical as 911, you have to protect your customers from being lazy or uninformed.
gottappp
50%
50%
gottappp,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:22:03 AM
re: Texas: Vonage 911 Is a Joke
Except forcing customers to configure E911 via the web would cause a fury of customer service calls. They're already way understaffed in that department. Have you ever actually tried to call vonage for tech support? Good luck.
whyiswhy
50%
50%
whyiswhy,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:21:56 AM
re: Texas: Vonage 911 Is a Joke
Vonage management: too cheap or too stupid?

Prediction: settlement is gonna be a Gold mine for lawyers. Could break the company.

-Why
turing
50%
50%
turing,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:21:55 AM
re: Texas: Vonage 911 Is a Joke
Wouldn't it be simpler to just make the signup automatic? If a user can press two clicks to enable it, why not have the system do the "clicking" for them automatically? (not really clicking obviously, just in software running the functions) They already know the customers address when they signup, so it must just be they cant handle everyone signing up for it. (it must cost them money or something) So they're just being sleazy.
OldPOTS
50%
50%
OldPOTS,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:21:55 AM
re: Texas: Vonage 911 Is a Joke
Besides cheap or sleazy, are they making a bad name for VoIP?
Have they even addressed security? (LR Webinar)
-Interception
-Impersonation
-Message integrity
-Denial of Service
-Service Teft
-Spam, virus & worms

OldPOTS
trzwuip
50%
50%
trzwuip,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:21:49 AM
re: Texas: Vonage 911 Is a Joke
GÇ£I failed to fulfill my responsibilities - letGÇÖs find somebody to blame it on!GÇ¥ I failed to follow instructions - letGÇÖs see if I can get somebody to pay me for that.
The first and biggest warning you see on every VOIP provider website is about somewhat or fully restricted abilities to call 911. Is really being stupid enough to get 20000 dollars richer?
JohnMosesBrowning
50%
50%
JohnMosesBrowning,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:21:48 AM
re: Texas: Vonage 911 Is a Joke
Why get hung up on E911??? I use Packet8 and I DON'T pay for their E911 add-on. I can dial the 10 digit direct number just like we did before 911!! Except it was only 7 digits back in the old days...

whyiswhy
50%
50%
whyiswhy,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:21:42 AM
re: Texas: Vonage 911 Is a Joke
People, it does not take a lot of common sense to know that anything pretending to be a phone should be a 1:1 replacement for a regular phone.

Form, fit (whatever that means these days) and function...and no weasle ass fine print. That's just common business sense.

Vonage geek idiot engineers of the world: Kids in the US are taught about 911 in pre-school (age 3) for goodness sake! They can make 911 calls before they can use the toilet.

Based on that, it does not take a genius to imagine that some day, someone (like a kid) is gonna' make the very reasonable assumption, without reading the (weasle ass) fine print, that they can call 911 from the phone mom and dad use.

You telling me that you gotta tell your kid make a ten digit call? Or go run next door and make the call there?

I could go on about 911. Like how it is a free call, even from coin operated phones. Like even if your old cell phone does not have GPS, the 911 operator gets information on your rough location. That says a lot to someone who is at least awake.

I hope they get their royal pants sued off for their jackass stupidity. This company makes all US businesses look like droolers.

-Why
Think
50%
50%
Think,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:21:13 AM
re: Texas: Vonage 911 Is a Joke
Talk about common sense.....
Common sense means open your eyes and read! The print isn't even fine although it does contain polysylabic words.... like weasle ass?

VOIP transits the cloud. An IP address is not a physical address. The TDM world and the VOIP world do not seamlessly intertwine themselves magically.I wonder "WHY"? Perhaps it is because, unlike a traditional landline phone, you can move your IP/VOIP phone to wherever you go with your laptop. What a great idea! No missed calls! But where do you want Emergency Serivces to show up when there is a problem? Not at Starbucks!

With new technology come change. Folks in the city make 10 digit calls everyday. That was change. "WHY" would anyone with any common sense not take the full 2 minutes it takes to associate their VOIP, IP addressed phone with a physical address? It doesn't take a genius! If you have a broad band connection, common sense would suggest that you are smarter than the average bear. Perhaps not.

The only stupid people here are the ones who aren't able top read or take responsibility for their own decisions.

"Excuse me sir, let me wipe that for you too."


Porter!
50%
50%
Porter!,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:20:52 AM
re: Texas: Vonage 911 Is a Joke
Speed dialing makes those 10-digit calls a whole lot easier
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Last week I dropped in on "Hotlanta," Georgia to moderate Light Reading's inaugural DroneComm conference – a unique colloquium investigating the potential for drone communications to disrupt the world's telecom ecosystem. As you will see, it was a day of exploration and epiphany...
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Emmons: SDN Key to Cost-Effective Scaling

5|22|15   |   03:53   |   (0) comments


For Verizon and other network operators to ramp up available bandwidth cost effectively, they need to move to SDN and agree on how to do that.
LRTV Documentaries
Lack of Universal SDN a Challenge

5|21|15   |   04:51   |   (3) comments


Heavy Reading Analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how uncertainty about SDN standards and approaches may be slowing deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Steve Vogelsang Interview: Carrier SDN

5|20|15   |   05:02   |   (0) comments


Sterling Perrin speaks to Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, about the new Carrier SDN-enabling Network Services Platform and the operator challenges it solves.
LRTV Custom TV
Carrier SDN: On-Demand Networks for an On-Demand World

5|20|15   |   20:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, talks about requirements and benefits of Carrier SDN during the keynote address at the Light Reading Carrier SDN event May 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
The Security Challenge of SDN

5|19|15   |   02:52   |   (0) comments


CenturyLink VP James Feger discusses concerns that virtualization could create new vulnerabilities unless network operators build in safeguards.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Elasticity – Highly Available VNF Scale-Out Architectures for the Mobile Edge

5|18|15   |   5:50   |   (0) comments


Peter Marek and Paul Stevens from Advantech Networks and Communications Group talk about their NFV Elasticity initiative and the company's latest platforms for deploying virtual network functions at the edge of the network. Packetarium XL and the new Versatile Server Module: 'designed to reach parts of the network that other servers cannot reach.'
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bay Area Spark Meetup 2015

5|14|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Developed in 2009, Apache Spark is a powerful open source processing engine built around speed, ease of use and sophisticated analytics. This spring, Huawei hosted a meetup for Spark developers and data scientists in Santa Clara, California. Light Reading spoke with organizers and attendees about Huawei's code contributions and long-term commitment to Spark.
LRTV Custom TV
The Transport SDN Buzz

5|12|15   |   06:01   |   (1) comment


Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, speaks with Peter Ashwood-Smith of Huawei and Guru Parulkar of ON.Lab about the evolution of transport SDN and the integration of technologies.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation CCAP: Cisco cBR-8 Evolved CCAP

5|5|15   |   04:49   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explained the innovation design of Cisco's cBR-8, the industry's first Evolved CCAP, including DOCSIS 3.1 design from ground-up, distributed CCAP with Remote PHY and path to virtualization. Cisco's cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the platform that will last through the transitions.
LRTV Custom TV
Meeting the Demands of Bandwidth & Service Group Growth

5|1|15   |   5:35   |   (0) comments


Jorge Salinger, Comcast's Vice President of Access Architecture, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 and multi-service CCAP can meet the demands of the bandwidth and service group growth.
LRTV Custom TV
DOCSIS 3.1: Transforming Cable From Hardware-Defined Network to Software-Defined Network

4|29|15   |   03:48   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 can transform cable HFC network to a more agile software-defined network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Predicting Traffic Patterns for Quality Mobile Broadband

4|29|15   |   6:45   |   (0) comments


Accessing information ubiquitously creates complexity and creates heavy traffic onto the network, especially at large-scale events like sporting events or festivals. In this video, Huawei's Mohammad Hussain speaks to experts about how to predict traffic and improve user experience during periods of heavy traffic.
Upcoming Live Events
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Network functions virtualization (NFV) is not the easiest of topics to take on board, so here's a Light Reading infographic, developed following conversations with the folks at HP, that helps make sense of where NFV is taking the industry.
Hot Topics
Verizon Saves 60% Swapping Copper for Fiber
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 5/19/2015
Choosing a Technology Supplier? Consider Changing Your Selection Criteria
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 5/18/2015
Chattanooga Charts Killer Gigabit Apps
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/20/2015
10 Alternate Uses for Tablets
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 5/22/2015
Smarter 'Dumb' TVs Will Drive OTT Adoption
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/18/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With 200 customers in 60 countries, Stockholm-based Net Insight has carved out a solid leadership position in one of the hottest vertical markets going in comms right now: helping service providers and broadcasters deliver video and other multimedia traffic over IP networks. How has Net Insight managed to achieve this success in the face of immense competition from the industry giants?
My ongoing interview tour of the leading minds of the telecom industry recently took me to Richardson, Texas, where I met with Rod Naphan, CTO and SVP, Solutions, ...
I recently popped down to Texas to chat with CEO Eric L. Pratt about his company, Taqua.
Cats with Phones