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FCC: VoIP Providers Must Provide 911 Services

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the insert-standard-rants dept.

United States 496

acadiel writes "The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the FCC will require VoIP providers to provide 911 location services. This will mean extra $$$ that the VoIP providers will have to put out, which ultimately means extra $$$ that the consumer will have to put out. This is the first step in regulating an industry that should have been left alone..." I hope network end-points and physical location aren't going to be too tightly linked; one of the appeals of VoIP is using it from anywhere that has an adequate Internet connection.

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496 comments

God damned government (0)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368157)

Leave it to big business government corporate interests to come together in the name of:

- Slowing down technology innovation
- Inhibiting more technological innovation through excessive taxation and legislations
- Trying to play daddy and take care of its citizens like we're total imbasoles

No thanks. I'll stick with free, open-standard technologies like TCP/IP, Linux, etc.

I have a serious question though: has anything ever NOT been ruined by standardization/regulation?

Re:God damned government (3, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368184)

I have a serious question though: has anything ever NOT been ruined by standardization/regulation?

"Planes, Trains, and Automobiles"?

Re:God damned government (2, Funny)

dankney (631226) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368238)

Who needs standards when one can take a good idea and change it just a little so that everyone has to buy your version of it?

Re:God damned government (1)

tengwar (600847) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368354)

Did you ever pay for memory for a computer before it was standardised?

Re:God damned government (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368206)

" Leave it to big business government corporate interests"

I'm not sure what this means? I assume from the rest of the post you want govt to leave the business alone. Standarization is usually good for competition, as long as the govt. isn't the one doing the standardizing, but instead representatives of companies that are actually competent in their field.

AMSTERDAM VALLON SI TEH M4ST4 OF T3HSUX C0X0RZ!!!1 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368214)

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Re:God damned government (-1, Offtopic)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368385)

English is something that has been absolutely ruined by standardization. If English were standardized I would know that you meant imbecile and not wasted my time trying to figure out what an imbasole is. Also, if you want to argue about spelling in accordance with pronunciation check dictionary.com and find out that no one except George Bush would pronounce the word "imbasole".

Re:God damned government (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368430)

Uh say what? That doesn't make any sense. .

DIAL 911 BITCH (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368163)

I JUST GOT A FROSTY.

AND MY COCK IS FLACCID.

before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account. before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account. before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account. before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account. before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

My lord, your cum is all over my anus (-1)

(TK8)Dessimat0r (670558) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368164)

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Overseas? (4, Insightful)

VirtualUK (121855) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368168)

Isn't this going to just push VoIP companies overseas where there won't be as tight regulation? It doesn't matter to the end user in the long run where the physical servers are located afterall.

Re:Overseas? (2, Insightful)

miu (626917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368333)

It matters to customers where the servers are located if it introduces delay into call setup time or a perceptible delay to voice conversations.

Also, the FCC gave a result they want, they have not yet mandated any particular solution. If US providers are being used for any portion of the communication they are potentially subject to FCC regulation.

Re:Overseas? (4, Insightful)

VirtualUK (121855) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368428)

Agreed, it "could" play a factor, but it's only really going to cause problems if the customer is using something like a media proxy to route the voice through. If no media proxy is being used then after call set up the two end points would be talking directly to each other, which would be as fast as you're going to get it regardless of where the VoIP suppliers registrars are sat.

Re:Overseas? (4, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368379)

I don't think the intent here is to regular any VOIP service, such as Skype, iChat, etc. Computer-to-computer service *shouldn't* see any regulation at all, though I'm sure the telcos are pushing to regulate it to stifle competition. However, as soon as you tie that service to a telephone number (Vonage, et al) it's fair game for certain regulatory controls.

Re:Overseas? (3, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368397)

Isn't this going to just push VoIP companies overseas where there won't be as tight regulation? It doesn't matter to the end user in the long run where the physical servers are located afterall.

The end user might not care, but that end user will seriously cause problems for their friends and family. It means to call a VoIP-to-phone user from a normal PTSN phone would be an international call to wherever the PTSN-to-VoIP transfer happens. If that transfer happens in the USA, then the VoIP company is a phone service provider and they'll have to comply with FCC rules.

Re:Overseas? (3, Interesting)

VirtualUK (121855) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368459)

It just depends whether or not the PSTN-to-VoIP gateway is just that, or if it's a service run by the VoIP company. There are plenty of PSTN-to-VoIP gateways that allow you to break out onto different networks. I'm not saying it's pretty at the moment, but what I'm suggesting is that the gateway needn't be provided by the company that is providing the registrar services, and thus would be impossible to regulate if they were overseas.

Re:Overseas? (1)

VirtualUK (121855) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368400)

Agreed, it "could" play a factor, but it's only really going to cause problems if the customer is using something like a media proxy to route the voice through. If no media proxy is being used then after call set up the two end points would be talking directly to each other, which would be as fast as you're going to get it regardless of where the VoIP suppliers registrars are sat.

Re:Overseas? (4, Informative)

t0ny (590331) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368423)

From the top level post: "This will mean extra $$$ that the VoIP providers will have to put out, which ultimately means extra $$$ that the consumer will have to put out. This is the first step in regulating an industry that should have been left alone..."

ja, d00d, joo r right. d0wn wit da 35tabl1shm3nt!!!

I can totally see why they shouldnt force people to have something like 911 service. Heaven forbid you be able to get emergency service! Moron.

BTW, I use Vonage, and they already provide 911 service- you just need to give them the area the service is physically tied to so they will know where to route the call.

It does not, however, tie directly into the existing 'official' 911 service (from what I read on their "911 ToS"); I think its a call center which can pass it on or something.

Cell phone (5, Insightful)

Luigi30 (656867) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368169)

So, since servers can be anywhere in the world for VoIP, it's going to be like calling 911 from your cell phone-- no address unless you give them one, no identity data until you give them some. Great.

Re:Cell phone (2, Insightful)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368188)

...until they force voip providers to provide that information too, like cell phones.

Re:Cell phone (1)

Luigi30 (656867) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368259)

What would stop people from giving fake information? Signing up in person? I sure as hell don't give real information on the internet. I wonder just where 123 Fake Street of Faketown, Alaska is...

Re:Cell phone (1)

Don Sample (57699) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368281)

At least when you call from your cell phone, you'll get 911 for the right city. With VoIP they don't even really know what city you're in.

Re:Cell phone (0, Redundant)

Luigi30 (656867) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368287)

Exactly. You could be in California and get the 911 for Maine.

Re:Cell phone (2)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368305)

Oods are they'll know where you are. Seeing as they need to send the bill for hte VOIP service to some place.

Vonage has 911 service already (5, Informative)

xkenny13 (309849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368173)

I'm using Vonage [vonage.com] for VoIP phone service, and they already allow Dialing 911 [vonage.com] .

Are there other VoIP service providers that don't?

Re:Vonage has 911 service already (5, Informative)

phoneboy (11009) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368266)

Many providers do 911 a bit like speed dial -- the provider looks up your address, assigns "911" to your local Public Safety Access Point. However:

1. Not all providers do this.
2. The providers that do it often get it wrong.
3. You often don't know they got it wrong until you need it because there's no way for you to "verify" that it works.
4. Not all PSAPs are created equal -- in some areas, you get to a 911 call center, in others it gets you somewhere else that isn't exactly a 911 call center.

Personally, I think it should be up to the provider if they want to provide 911 or not. They shouldn't be allowed to say they provide 911 service unless it is done right .

-- PhoneBoy

Re:Vonage has 911 service already (2, Informative)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368303)

Dialing 911 is the easy part. Quoted from the link you posted:
"You Must Pre-designate the Physical Location of Your Vonage Line for 911 Dialing to Function.


Remember that unlike traditional phone lines, Vonage service is portable to any location with broadband Internet access. For example, you can have a New York number and receive calls in Texas. You can also take your equipment with you on a trip but, when you travel, 911 Dialing will automatically route your call to the local emergency personnel location for the address on file, not your temporary location."
Any service can do this... type in your location info on a website, the VOIP provider stores it in a database, then when you call 911, that location is passed along. But there's no guarantees that when you have a heart attack and need help, that the ambulance will show up in Texas rather than your registered New York address.

Re:Vonage has 911 service already (5, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368357)

Vonage has a poor fill-in for 911 service already, the ability to map "911" to the local police department.

Sorry. That's not 911, and it's far away from e911. Phone companies is required to provide the true e911. That means when you hit 911, you get connected immediately to the right call center servicing your area that has the capability to dispatch police, fire, and medical resources and your location data is automatically sent to that center as well.

911 call centers cannot be reached by mapping to any 10-digit number. There is no 10-digit number for them, they are simply known as 911 on the network within the region they serve. Vonage's immitation 911 depends on mapping 911 to a 10-digit number, so it can't find the call center and has to hope the police can help them. If you call a police department to report a fire, you will lose when-seconds-count time being bounced around while things burn.

If Vonage wants to compete with the phone companies, they have to have the same regulatory burdens that the FCC slaps on phone companies. It's only fair. If it means Vonage has to limit portability and/or raise prices to

All phone services should have 911 access! (5, Interesting)

sahonen (680948) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368175)

I don't see what the problem is... Would you rather sign up for your new VoIP provider, then find out when you're being robbed or whatever that the police can't find where you are, or worse, not be able to reach them through 911?

Re:All phone services should have 911 access! (1)

ScarletEmerald (717076) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368375)

It's not like 911 is the only way to get in touch with the police. On your home VoIP phone I assume you can just program the local police/fire/hospital numbers into auto-dial.

A 911 service might be useful for portables though, since you might not know the local numbers when you're traveling. Still, this seems like something that might be better left to companies to provide as an option rather than having government regulations require it be provided to everyone. If consumers want it, they can pay for it- if not, they shouldn't have to.

Re:All phone services should have 911 access! (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368462)

It's not like 911 is the only way to get in touch with the police.

You have 15 seconds. Tell me the non-911 way to report an emergency to the fire department where you are presently located.

See, the point of 911 is to have a dedicated emergency number that connects you to a trained dispatcher with the power to dispatch police, fire, and emergency medical services that is the same from coast to coast. As a result, most police and fire departments have ended their efforts to promote their local-access numbers because schoolchildren just need to learn what 911 is. The emergency numbers are no longer on a sticker on your phone, no longer on a magnet on your fridge, and no longer on the inside cover of your phone book. The inside cover now just tells you to call 911.

If consumers want it, they can pay for it- if not, they shouldn't have to.
Sorry, that's not how we do emergency services in this country. You don't get to opt out of emergency services to save a few pennies because you never know when you or somebody around you will need it. Any phone that's connected to the network, even one that has no paid-for service, has the ability to reach 911 at all times.

not a big fan of regulation (5, Insightful)

aderusha (32235) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368176)

i'm not a big fan of regulation, but requiring access to emergency services seems like a pretty reasonable request. the tone of this story seems to indicate that the government mandating that people are able to call for emergency service is somehow a bad thing. it's in the "your rights online" section, but i don't see where my rights are being trampled.

Re:not a big fan of regulation (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368231)

Yeah really. Imagine if someone had to remember the local 7 digit number for their police station. That'd be awful! 7 digits is very hard! Especially hard to write down next to your phone so you always have it handy!

Re:not a big fan of regulation (1)

xkenny13 (309849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368234)

i'm not a big fan of regulation, but requiring access to emergency services seems like a pretty reasonable request. the tone of this story seems to indicate that the government mandating that people are able to call for emergency service is somehow a bad thing. it's in the "your rights online" section, but i don't see where my rights are being trampled.

Are the mandates for VoIP somehow different from regular land-line service? Given a home that had phone service, but is now "disconnected" ... you can still plug a phone into any jack and you should get a dial tone. As I understand it, this is 911-only service, so you can at least access the emergency services if you need them.

Re:not a big fan of regulation (1)

dabraun (626287) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368268)

That isn't true - if you don't have phone service there is no dial tone at all. It is possible that if you phone service is cut off for non-payment the dial tone and ability to call 911 may remain, but if you cancel your land line there is definitely no ability to call anywhere, not even 911.

David

Re:not a big fan of regulation (4, Informative)

xkenny13 (309849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368360)

That isn't true - if you don't have phone service there is no dial tone at all. It is possible that if you phone service is cut off for non-payment the dial tone and ability to call 911 may remain, but if you cancel your land line there is definitely no ability to call anywhere, not even 911.

This may not be true in all areas, but I know it is true in some cases. For instance, I just bought a house. The previous owner disconnected their service, and I never signed up for my own service. Still, if you plug a phone into the wall, you'll get a dial tone. If you try to dial out, you'll get that bi-tonal error dealie. Mind you, I didn't actually try dialing 911 as "just testing" probably wouldn't qualify as a plausible excuse. :-)

In order to hook Vonage VoIP into my regular phone lines, I had to physically disconnect the external lines from Verizon, in order to ensure that there was no voltage running through the phone lines in the house.

Trust me, you get a dial tone.

Re:not a big fan of regulation (1)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368429)

I have a "disconnected" analog line that has dialtone, and if you dial any number other than 911 it says "We're sorry, but this line can only dial 911".

However, I doubt the phone company is obligated to do this. If they need my pair or line card for another subscriber, they will probably reuse it and that dial tone and 911 dialing ability will go away.

Of course, the procedures probably differ from company to company. I use Bellsouth here.

Re:not a big fan of regulation (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368356)

Some might make the argument that if emergency dialing is that important to consumers, that they'd vote with their feet... That VoIP providers who didn't allow for 911 dialing would be forced to eventually IF it was that important to consumers. And since government doesn't know what's important to consumers, they might as well stay out of it.

Emergency services don't work like that (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368441)

Many people don't think about them, or think about needing them, until an actual emergency strikes. Then it's too late. It's not a matter of if it is important to consumers, but rather if it is important to society. If we left all safety related decisions up to "the consumers" we'd be in a world of trouble. The majority isn't always right, and our system was built to acknowledge that.

A true majority-rule democracy would do just that. Everyone would have a direct vote on anything important and whatever the public said, would go. That's not how it works. We are a federal republic that is very democratic. People have a strong say in the government, and direct vote on many things, but their word is not final and they don't get to control everything directly.

Where does it end... (0, Insightful)

ScooterBill (599835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368180)

Perhaps, those who want 911 locating service should actually subscribe to it rather than the government mandating it.

M

Re:Where does it end... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368210)

Ah, you forget, currently VoIP can be made virtually untraceable if you really want to. Government wants to be able to know who's talking to who.

Re:Where does it end... (5, Insightful)

PacoTaco (577292) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368330)

"My house has never caught fire. Why should I help pay for the fire department?"

Re:Where does it end... (1)

ScooterBill (599835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368458)

>"My house has never caught fire. Why should I help pay for the fire department?"

You're making a pointless argument. I'm not required to install a sprinkler system in my house either. Why not?

If 911 locating service was a relatively easy thing to mandate, then it would make sense. The reality is that with the internet as we know it, tracing any IP activity to the source may or may not be possible in a reasonable amount of time.

I think the government doesn't understand the problem or has something else in mind that isn't stated.

M

Re:Where does it end... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368343)

think about it for a second.

You know there are people in the world who refuse to pay any extra for extra services.
911 type emergency service is basially an essential if someone plans on ditching conventional phone systems.

And when it comes down to it, you know there will be people who will not want to pay extra to get 911 on their phone and they could be SOL later. (If they dont have a cellphone or whatever, then an option might be viable)

I see this more or less as people being saved from their own stupididy (and cheapness that brings it about).

Subscribing to police and fire services (2, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368460)

Another poster alluded to this, but do you also think individuals should be able to subscribe for police and fire protection? If you are being held hostage, the police look up your details in their database, see that you aren't a subscriber, and refuse to help out? Your house is burning down and you and your family are trapped inside, but the fire department drives past your house because you didn't sign up for service?

I'm all for less government control and red tape, but emergency services is one of those areas which I don't mind having it mandated.

How truly screwed up is this ? (-1, Flamebait)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368182)

I am being serious here mod me down if neccesary, BUT WHAT IN GODS NAME is the use of this.

Hold on Im getting mugged/raped/murdered OH but first let me log on to my computer to dial 911
WTF ?

Is our goverment really THIS out of touch or is this a concession to big money telcom interests ?

Re:How truly screwed up is this ? (5, Informative)

PhuCknuT (1703) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368211)

Are YOU that out of touch that you think you need to get on your PC to make a VOIP call? VOIP phones that work just like normal phones (from the enduser view) have been in use for several years now.

Re:How truly screwed up is this ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368229)

It was a joke but on rereading it it dosnet look like it ah well I didnt get FP either , strike 2

Re:How truly screwed up is this ? (4, Informative)

Garak (100517) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368232)

VOIP dosn't mean computer...

Rogers cable here in canada are offering a regular phone that runs over VOIP on their cable system. Soon here in canada we won't have to depend on the telco for land line telephone.

Re:How truly screwed up is this ? (1)

Trailwalker (648636) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368236)

It would be for the person who sees you being mugged/raped/murdered.

After he finishes using his digicam/phonecam to record the event for posterity, he can call the proper authorities.

Hey numnut..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368241)

Hey numnut, I wish I did have mod points because you *are* trolling. You don't need to log on to your computer to use the phone. please mod this dumbass into oblivion!

Re:How truly screwed up is this ? (1)

nathan s (719490) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368253)

I think you don't really understand how VoIP works. In the case of Vonage, it's a box that you plug into your LAN/WAN that converts an analog telephone input into a digital signal. The appeal of VoIP is that you can take the box and plug it into any network and effectively take your phone with you. I don't think it is, nor is it intended to be, a cell phone replacement; nor is there any need to 'log on to your computer' unless you are using dialup internet access. In the latter case, you probably shouldn't be using VoIP anyway, as it requires broadband [always on] to have decent quality.

Obviously, you miss the point (2, Informative)

LordZardoz (155141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368265)

Not all VoiP services are going to require you to use a PC. There is no reason why you could not have a typical looking phone connected to an internet access point (ethernet jack in the wall).

My understanding is that such phone sets are starting to come onto the market. And when your bleeding, your not likely to look at the wires attached to the phone when you call for help.

Calling 911 is one of those things that should just simply work. There is nothing unreasonable about this.

END COMMUNICATION

Re:How truly screwed up is this ? (2, Informative)

xkenny13 (309849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368276)

I am being serious here mod me down if neccesary, BUT WHAT IN GODS NAME is the use of this.

Hold on Im getting mugged/raped/murdered OH but first let me log on to my computer to dial 911
WTF ?


VoIP is more-or-less a regular telephone, with the service part coming over your Internet connection, as opposed to your old copper wire phone lines.

The phones plug into their router, but otherwise acts like any other telephone does. You don't actually need a computer to use the phone, all you need is a live Internet connection.

Re:How truly screwed up is this ? (2, Insightful)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368282)

You're not thinking. Voice over IP is the future. In a couple of years your cell phone might be just a node on wireless internet rather than on a cell-tower based system. Wouldn't it be nice to call around the world, effectively for free, from your VOIP gadget? Now, wouldn't you want to call 911 when you're in trouble? Any cell phone sold today must connect to 911, regardless of whether it's currently subscribed. This needs to happen to any new communications systems, for all our safety. They're our airwaves, and our taxpayer dollars, and they're putting them to good use.

Re:How truly screwed up is this ? (1)

yuri benjamin (222127) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368283)

Hold on Im getting mugged/raped/murdered OH but first let me log on to my computer to dial 911
WTF ?


With a proper set up you won't have to log into your computer.
Your VoIP phone looks like a normal phone which happens to be plugged into your router rather than a PSTN phone jack.
This fact should be transparent to the enduser.
With a proper implementation, I should be able to rip out the PSTN phones in my house and replace them with VoIP phones that connect to my router, and no-one else in the household should notice any difference.

If you can't get to your VoIP phone in the above scenario, you wouldn't have been able to get to your PSTN phone either.

Re:How truly screwed up is this ? (2, Insightful)

lantius (748963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368291)

I think you're confused a bit about where VOIP technology is headed.

Think less like "headphones and microphone at a pc" and more like "normal-looking phone on a desk" [typepad.com] .

If and when these become commonplace in the home, you're going to expect it to work in a similar fashion to how your current phone works. Particularly, when you dial 911, you'd like the call routed to a local, nearby 911 service dispatcher, so they can get help to you quickly.

Re:How truly screwed up is this ? (1)

n()_cHIEFz (203036) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368315)

Are you really that out of touch and shortsighted to think that the only devices that use VoIP are computers. Ever heard of a wi-fi connected Palm device??? I would consider this to be pretty much a mobile phone if you're within a wi-fi access point and have VoIP software running.

I'm not a proponent of regulation of VoIP but there could be a use for 911 services with VoIP.

Re:How truly screwed up is this ? (-1, Troll)

fenix down (206580) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368355)

tpants hold on im getting mugged/raped/murderedhuglugubgugub
{ tspigot yes
O )
/|\ \O/
'|' (o)
_|\_ _/ \_

This article is just wrong (5, Insightful)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368186)

I take offense at this article that things are being regulated that are "better off being left alone". I'm sorry, but requiring 911 features is not an excessive regulation. So users of the VoIP services are going to have to pay more - big deal. Having 911 access is very important and often means the difference between life and death, or extinguished fire versus hundreds of thousands of dollars lost. Since the VoIP services aren't capable of being altruistic and offering a very much needed service, the government needs to step in and enforce these regulations. This is what the government is supposed to do, and is certainly not "government overstepping its bounds"!

Re:This article is just wrong (1)

ScooterBill (599835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368223)

911 service is simply a phone call to 911. The question is whether or not the authorities can physically locate the phone being used to dial 911.

I don't think anyone would actually prefer to block the ability to dial 911.

M

Re:This article is just wrong (2, Insightful)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368272)


911 service is simply a phone call to 911. The question is whether or not the authorities can physically locate the phone being used to dial 911.


911 isn't very useful in true emergency situations if your location can't even be traced. If you're being burglared (sp?), you don't have time to tell them your address. You call 911, say, "There's a burglar in my home, HELP!", and run and hide. You don't wanna be caught by the burglar on the phone trying to give them directions to your house.

Time to drag out this tired post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368244)

"When they came for the communists, I was silent, because I was not a communist;
When they came for the socialists, I was silent, because I was not a socialist;
When they came for the trade unionists, I did not protest, because I was not a trade unionist;
When they came for the Jews, I did not protest, because I was not a Jew;
When they came for me, there was no one left to protest on my behalf."
Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984)

Re:This article is just wrong (5, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368252)

I absolutely agree. The article submiter showed true stupidity by making a comment like that. There have ALREADY been cases where people died because cell phones did not have 911 location services.

Re:This article is just wrong (2, Insightful)

ScooterBill (599835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368328)

Just because someone dies because their phone doesn't have 911 locating service doesn't mean that the government must force everyone to have this. 911 locating service is a technology that works well with the existing cell phone infrastructure. Forcing this implementation with VOIP would mean that you could only make internet phone calls through a government approved, traceable system. Sorry, but this is not necessary. If you want to be traced, then buy a traceable phone.

M

Re:This article is just wrong (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368457)

If you want to be traced, then buy a traceable phone But how many people would know the difference? That's the real problem. Phones have worked this way for decades. People assume that a 911 call is traceable and right or wrong they rely on it in emergencies. It may not be necessary to have location services but it sure as hell seems like the right thing to do. I am not a big fan of regulating the hell out of anything but to call this "the first step down the road to regulation..." is just a terrible slippery slope argument.

voluntary is better (1)

my sig is bigger tha (682562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368436)

from the article-

"The FCC should watch and make sure the things we are doing voluntarily actually happen," said Tom Evslin, chairman of ITXC Corp., part of a new lobbying group opposing regulation of Internet phone services. "We do not believe it's necessary for the FCC to regulate in this area. I believe without regulation, we will be effective, and the result will be much better emergency services."

Pinpoint VOIP calls? (0)

rsborg (111459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368191)

So the IP address of the caller is not available if they use POTS? Otherwise, this sounds like a reasonable requirement.

Furthermore, I assume this only applies to VOIP providers that interface with POTS?

Hopefully at some point in my lifetime, we'll get rid of POTS, and just eveolve to something better.

Another Fsking Snout in the Trough (-1, Flamebait)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368192)

When is the government going to learn to leave the internet alone. I am so fsking tired of little leaching taxes on everything. Theres no guarantee that everone gets 911. Leave us alone.

Re:Another Fsking Snout in the Trough (3, Funny)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368235)

Fsking? What the fuck is this word?

Re:Another Fsking Snout in the Trough (1)

Quobobo (709437) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368286)

Obviously a misspelled fsck.

Vonage already provides 911 service (4, Interesting)

justMichael (606509) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368196)

This will mean extra $$$ that the VoIP providers will have to put out, which ultimately means extra $$$ that the consumer will have to put out.

Vonage [vonage.com] added this a while back, more info here [vonage.com] and oddly enough, my bill went down after they implemented it.

Queue the "My rights are being trampled" posts (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368198)

wait for it....

wait for it....

GO!!

Re:Queue the "My rights are being trampled" posts (1)

kid-noodle (669957) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368409)

So can we disqualify all those people who already started now?

911 is kinda important (5, Insightful)

Clyde (150895) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368209)

As much as I believe that most politicians are horse thieves and some things should be less regulated (radio frequencies for public use, for example), I think I'd be pissed if I got VoIP home phone service and wasn't able to call 911 in an emergency.

C

Re:911 is kinda important (3, Interesting)

biounlogical (745979) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368299)

Just think of the issues that would be raised after a major emergency that could not be reported "I tried to call 911 but I couldn't connect..." That's when things would really start to hit the fan.

They can see a situation like this coming and they're trying to nip it at the bud.

Go for it (5, Interesting)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368218)

I'm all for this. Sure, it'll cost more and that sucks. On the other hand, however, I feel that this was one of the larger hurdles stopping the wider adoption of VoIP. By forcing compliance through regulation you ensure that those providers who do provide the (rather important) 911 support will be able to compete price wise with those who would otherwise choose not to.

Needs to be done (4, Insightful)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368227)

Despite everyone here seeming to think that VoIP should be totally unregulated, 911 support is IMHO a very Good Thing.

People expect - and reasonably so - that they can pick up any phone in the country, dial 911, and get an emergency operator.

And how long is it going to be before people start installing VoIP payphones, if they haven't already? What about pre-wired apartment complexes offering cheap phone service?

Use of VoIP isn't limited to geeks with a dedicated and separate VoIP setup anymore.

911 LOCATION, not just 911 and how will they know (3, Interesting)

chopper749 (574759) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368233)

your location? What if you go though a proxy? Will it be a felony if the proxy reports it's location to 911, and not your actual location?

Re:911 LOCATION, not just 911 and how will they kn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368298)

You must try harder for karma son.

Whatever... (5, Insightful)

big_groo (237634) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368248)

This is the first step in regulating an industry that should have been left alone..."

Um...this is 911 we're talking about here. I pay 25 cents on my phone bill for 911 service. God forbid, I ever have to use 911 - but I'm thankful it is there. Good for the FCC.

911 (3, Insightful)

panic911 (224370) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368250)

So the guy who wrote this article seems to think that regulating VoIP is a bad thing. I would agree with him to a degree, but having an emergency number is critical if you ever expect VoIP to replace normal land line phones. Personally, I would not want to rely completely on VoIP if it didn't have 911. What if a family member had a heart attack or something, should people die because they don't want the FCC regulating their phone systems? I think not.

Not in favor of regulation. (1)

geekee (591277) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368255)

However, if a VoIP provider does not have 911 calling capability, they should make that very clear when you sign up so you can make an informed choice.

Don't Complain (1)

hopbine (618442) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368256)

This seems like an obvious thing to do. I am sure that if a 911 call from whatever source could NOT be located, then most /.ers would be complain and saying why not! If cell phone or VOIP usage grows so quickly that the providers can't keep up, then slow down the growth untill they can.

Why Regulate? (3, Insightful)

pdaoust007 (258232) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368294)

Most customers will prefer providers that actually offer 911 features in the first place. It's a value proposition and people usually take their family's security pretty seriously.

I think it should be left alone, people can make their own decisions. If they choose a VoIP provider without 911 then it's their problem (or perhaps they use it as a second line and have 911 on their POTS).

no phone (0, Troll)

jjeffries (17675) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368301)

I have no telephone. I hate the damn things, and have to use one all the time at work anyway.

Am I going to be forced to get one so that I have the ability to call 911, should the need arise?

Just make sure you carrier pigeons have mapquest. (1)

demonic-halo (652519) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368381)


You know how those pigeons get scared during a time of calamity. Especially those white ones. You gotta make sure you have some backup pigeons too, in case one accidentally uses Yahoo Maps instead. Then there's the pigeons that can't tell left from right...

it's 911 for thor's sake (5, Funny)

catphile (316499) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368309)

You people are bitching about 911 service?! Do you complain when that *big government* fire department shows up with their *oppressive* hoses to save your shit when it's on fire?

Just go move to your shack in Montana and let the rest of us have a functioning community. :muttering under breath:

Re:it's 911 for thor's sake (1)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368439)

No kidding. Where was the /. uprising against the gov't repremanding MS for having a monopoly? Regulation is regulation.

Hey! (2, Funny)

TheVidiot (549995) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368310)

That's
£££
you insensitive clod!


(damn code filter!)

VOIP is just a technology... (2, Interesting)

Garak (100517) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368344)

VOIP is just another technology for voice communication like two cans and a string, two way radio and POTS.

I think what they mean is that if a VOIP system is connected to the publicly switched telephone network they must give access to local 911...

Here in canada rogers cable is offering telephone lines using VOIP on their cable system. I sure hope they offer access to the local 911...

You have to specify a location... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368358)

Mandatory 911?
I like the idea of being able to take my home phone number with me wherever there's a decent internet connection (family/hotels/etc.). If I make a 911 call on vacation (who knows, emergency situations aren't conducive to rational thought), the EMS/Police/Fire authority is going to go to my home and be rather upset my VoIP phone told them I was at home. If you don't have 911 set up, you don't have this concern.

This needs to be regulated! (4, Insightful)

MongooseCN (139203) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368362)

You can't tell the difference between a VOIP phone and a non-VOIP phone. What if there's an emergency at someone's house and they use a VOIP that didn't have a 911 number? The person in the emergency situation may not know this and try dialing 911. They end up getting who-knows-what when they are expecting help.

The stressful nature of emergencies makes it hard to think and people have it drilled into them to dial 911 in an emergency. If 911 doesn't work, the situation could get much worse.

Just imagine dialing 911 because someone's bleeding out on the floor and getting an advertisement asking you if you'd like to buy this number.

Why not just make this like a cell phone (1)

doormat (63648) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368376)

Where you have to dial the area code and then "911", ie 1-212-911.

Re:Why not just make this like a cell phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368454)

are you retarded? you never have to do that on cell phones.

Mandatory and automatic (2, Interesting)

TeraBill (746791) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368378)

I think what they are probably going to want for this, is something that will be mandatory and automatic. In other words, you will have it whether you really want it or not. And it will have to detect your location and update the info to the PSAP. Vonage doesn't do either of these today and I think it will be a bit spendy to do it. I know I have talked to people about the concept of having some sort of GPS device in a phone that could auto-update the location when it network connects. The problem is that an IP phone and easily move and I can take my phone a go to the neighbors or take it to a hotel that has high-speed Internet in another state and use it.

It is not unlike states like Illinois that require a company with a large facility to track the location of PBX extensions for 911 purposes. This has been a bit of a headache when people go to do VOIP in those settings. Imagine that on the Internet and there are definitely some issues to resolve.

But, without problems like that, from where would innovation come?

Reliability issues??? (4, Insightful)

enosys (705759) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368387)

The ordinary phone system is extremely reliable. The electrical system is somewhat less reliable. Personal computers, some comsumer grade router/gateway boxes and many broadband ISPs are way less reliable. I don't think that VoIP, which relies on all these things, is ready to be used for 911.

If a VoIP provider doesn't have to offer 911 and it doesn't offer it then I hope it is immune from lawsuits regarding 911. People will also hopefully keep some other means of calling 911 then. However, if a VoIP provider offers 911 people might use that as their only means of calling for help in an emergency and if it doesn't work someone may die, there may be huge lawsuits, etc. I'm sure this will happen soon enough.

decreasing differentiation (2, Interesting)

renard (94190) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368389)

I look at this decision as decreasing the differentiation between the two types of service:
  1. Increasing cost for IP phones, where they were competing on cost;
  2. Mandating greater functionality for IP phones, in one of the few areas where traditional landlines had an edge
Thus for example a friend of mine with an IP phone at home has kept a minimal landline solely for the purpose of being able to dial 911.

Ultimately, by reducing the differentiation of these services, the decision is less damaging to either IP Phone providers or the Telcos than it is to the consumer - who used to be able to make a choice, less $ or better 911, but in the future will not be able to.

Sorry Charlie! The whole market just got that much less free, and that much less interesting.

-renard

The Old Days (1)

boobsea (728173) | more than 10 years ago | (#8368392)

back before 911 even existed, what did people do?

they actually kept the phone numbers of the local police, fire, and medical services next to their phone.

I dont see why we cant ask people who choose not to use regular phone lines to be a little bit responsible for themselves

DUH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8368424)

Just email the police, ambulance or fire department at 911@hotmail.com. You lunix nuts have lost it!
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