WASHINGTON (Reuters) - SBC Communications Inc. is in talks to provide Internet telephone provider Vonage Holdings Corp. with enhanced 911 emergency services for its customers, after an initial fight between the two carriers.
Initially SBC rejected a request from Vonage to lease access to the necessary equipment and databases, preferring to focus on an industrywide effort. Now the two sides are talking about a deal and going over technological requirements, according to a letter from SBC made available on Thursday.
Privately held Vonage provides its service using high-speed Internet connections and does not have access to the traditional 911 system where a phone number and address pop up in emergency call centers.
Instead, the company's 550,000 customers must activate a 911 service by registering an address which is used to send calls to lower-priority lines at call centers. That has drawn complaints that customers are unaware they must activate the service.
"We have offered to negotiate commercial agreements ...," Christopher Rice, SBC executive vice president for network planning and engineering, said in an April 18 letter to Vonage Chief Executive Jeffrey Citron.
Regardless, Rice told Vonage that the carrier would have to reach agreements with each public safety entity for delivery of 911 calls.
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