From two different responses by our editor:
A couple of misconceptions need to be addressed here Pat. First of all not everywhere is "like here" meaning Independence, Kansas. Let's move your scenario out of the rural area and into a major city. The PSAP operators in this major city on the Eastern Seaboard only answer two types of calls, they are either 9-1-1 or 3-1-1. The PSAP, with its equipment and 20 operators per shift is funded through the fees collected on telephone numbers terminating within its service area. The cellular companies pay a fee for each of their trunks that terminate in their cell sites within the service area. The local cable companies which provide telephone service bundled with their television and data services pay a fee to help support the PSAP. It seems everyone pays a fee to support the PSAP except the VOIP people who claim their having to pay the fee would be anti-competitive "because they are not a phone company." If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, the obvious conclusion would be that it is what it puports to be - unless it is a VOIP provider.
Now your example of "If the caller wishes to travel around, as for example with a cellular phone, that certainly is not the VOIP carrier's fault." is rather rife with flaws. If I travel to Independence, Kansas with my cell phone, which has an eastern city's identification, the PSAP in Independence would know the 9-1-1 call was local because it would ring in from the cellular switiching site based on the tower I was using. My call from my cellular phone wouldn't be routed to the PSAP that handles the NPA-NXX on the phone, but the PSAP that handles emergency services where the TOWER is located. Now, are you beginning to see the problems with being able to take your VOIP phone traveling and use the service wherever you have a broadband connection?
The VOIP carriers are using the telephone number assigned to the adapter for routing to the PSAP rather than the location of the router/gateway or whatever is the first unit to handle the call. Until some method is determined to associate a physical address with a connection, the problem will remain. People who think that VOIP is the answer to their telephone needs are being left hanging high-and-dry when it comes to emergency services.
Oh, those 3-1-1 non-emergency calls are just that, a non-emergency in the training of the PSAP operators. A 3-1-1 call will go unanswered should an active call on 9-1-1 be in process. The busiest hour for calls in this PSAP just happen to be the two hours before and after the bars close.
One other point about the difference between a 9-1-1 call and a 3-1-1 call. All 9-1-1 calls are delivered with ANI and perform a "data dip" to provide the ALI or location of the caller. 3-1-1 calls, by FCC mandate will only deliver Caller ID - if provided.
Rodgers Platt[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Aside for a minute the fact that I do not approve of 311 or the idea of police acting as the Answering Service for the entire government, which is what they would like, let's just talk about your cellular comparison. Yes, if you came here to visit from wherever, your cellular call to 911 would get routed as you say. But you have had a stroke, or for some other reason are unable/unwilling to speak, what _display_ will the 911 person _here_ receive? Your east coast address/phone number ID will be useless ... will it give the outgoing phone number of the local tower? What good will that do? By using GSM, I suppose _your_ phone could transmit to _our_ tower some string to be used as your 'temporary location' to be passed along as the 'ID' to _our_ dispatcher ... that might work.
Maybe VOIP could do something similar: A call on a VOIP phone to 911 would be intercepted by the broadband carrier handling your traffic and routed _from that point_ over a phone line to the local 911 spot. I do not honestly know _how_ Vonage handles it; only that they warn you repeatedly prior to getting the adapter turned on that "if you wish to use 911 from this adapter, you _must_ tell us the main address (house number, apartment number, etc) where the police or firemen or doctor or whoever is to go to find you and your distress. We need that information to make 911 work. It is _not_ optional." Then two or three days later they advise you the work is finished.
I should also point out that a 911 call is a rarity here; there are one or two per _day_ between the various places they respond for, including Independence PD, 'Independence Rural', Montomgery County Sheriff, Cherryvale, KS PD (overnight, when the one officer on duty there is the only staff person on duty in the town of 2000 people). And, she answers the City Hall centrex, and is the receptionist for the Police Department which is in the basement of our City Hall. And, on the occassion of a 911 call arriving, she _immediatly_ says on the radio 'nine one one call, stand by ... ' which means all the officers on the street, etc who may be chattering on the radio know to shut up and wait and listen. Using my scanner, I will hear her sometimes 'patching in her headset line' and a one-way conversation while she questions the caller: 'which way did you see them go? what kind of car was it, etc' and she will repeat back to the caller (and over the air of course) whatever the caller told her; officers all over southeast Kansas listening in and ready to move out if it involves their area. The overwhelming majority of our 'crime' around here involves teenagers and other young guys who are rowdy and very possibly had been drinking. They (police) also claim there is a 'terrible problem with drugs' here; my local attorney just laughs and says "that is the usual police BS; they find some kid with a bunch of old cola bottles and the powder that _could_ be used to make meth so police claim the kid has a 'meth lab' going on". The usual give and take you find between police and defense lawyers everywhere. PAT]