FCC Gives VoIP 120 Days for E911

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By David Sims, TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist

As widely expected, the Federal Communications Commission issued a decision today that Voice-over Internet Providers must provide access to E911 service to their customers in 120 days. The decision surprised few observers.

According to Reuters, the FCC 'unanimously voted to require carriers to provide emergency call centers the location and telephone number of callers who dial 911 from Internet phones and ensure that callers reach emergency dispatchers instead of nonemergency lines.'

In the months leading up to the decision there were lots of sharp words, apocalyptic predictions and political jockeying for position on the issue, as one might expect over the issue of access to the nation's nearly 6,200 "public safety answer points."

Some were sure the heavy hand of government would crush the innovative entrepreneurs who created the VoIP industry in the first place, in favor of the fat cats, the lumbering, established telcos who would come in and simply sweep up all the profits made possible by others:

"They (indie VoIP providers) were in the market space first, they have far better offerings, and much better pricing as well," wrote TechKnow Times. "So how to kill them? Simple. Force them to have to buy a service where the traditional telephone companies can set the price. And what is one thing that the traditional phone companies still pretty much have a monopoly on? The provision of 911 service."

Others argued that 911 is simply something you don't fool around with, no matter how many quick bucks irresponsible upstarts are making at the expense of public safety, what with not telling their customers their 911 calls get routed to administrative offices and don't even work after hours:

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