Texas Sues Vonage Over 911 Problem

[Comment: Since this originates in Texas, I cannot help but wonder if SBC had any involvement in this, even if only maybe by putting a bug in someone's ear at the AG's office. We will probably never know, but when I hear about something anti-VoIP coming out of Texas, that's just the way my mind wanders.]

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By Ben Charny, CNET News.com

The attorney general of Texas is suing Internet phone provider Vonage, charging that the company isn't clear to its customers about deficiencies in its 911 service.

Vonage 911 calls aren't routed in the traditional manner. Rather, most end up at the administrative offices of the 6,000 emergency calls centers rather than dispatchers. According to Abbott, the dangers of the circuitous route were exposed in early March when a 17-year-old Houston girl was unable to get through to police after dialing 911 on a Vonage phone after both her parents were shot by intruders.

In the U.S. District Court suit, announced Tuesday, Attorney General Greg Abbott alleges that Vonage doesn't "clearly disclose the lack of traditional 911 access" nor adequately inform its customers they must first sign up for the free 911 service. Such an omission violates state law dealing with deceptive trade practices, the state attorney general alleges. The state is asking for civil penalties of more than $20,000 and an injunction requiring more conspicuous disclosure.

A Vonage spokeswoman said the company was surprised to hear of the litigation and pointed out there are numerous references, both on the Internet and material mailed to customers, explaining the 911 service's limitations and its proactive nature. Abbott's office contacted New Jersey-based Vonage about a week ago asking for marketing materials and other information; the company hadn't heard anything since it replied with the materials two days ago, the spokeswoman said.

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Texas sues Vonage for lack of 911 call deficiency disclosure

-Posted by Russell Shaw @ 10:17 am

Earlier today, we reported that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he's sued Vonage for not being clear about the limitations of its 911 service.


A somewhat different circumstance prompted the lawsuit, however. Early this month, a 17 year-old Houston girl was unable to get through to the police on the family's Vonage line to inform them that her parents had been shot in a break-in.

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Jack Decker
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