VoIP / 911 concerns…

May 29, 2005 1:27am
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Man, I love it when people don’t do their homework and then blame the big corporations for their own ignorance…

http://www.911petition.com

Here we have the case of a family that switched their home phone over from a traditional landline to Voice-Over-IP, primarily because it no doubt costs less – $15/mo certainly isn’t $50/mo. Of course, anyone who’s done their homework on VoIP knows that they haven’t necessarily perfected all of the features and functionality yet, just one point of which being how the service handles 911 calls. Mind you, in nearly every single TOS document for these companies that I’ve read while considering options for myself, I’ve found a clause stating that dialing 911 from these devices should not be expected to route as 911 would on a regular landline.

This family chose not to heed the warning, and now they’re blaming Vonage for the death of their daughter.

Now don’t get me wrong, the fact that they lost their daughter is a horrible thing, but aside from that, this certainly isn’t the provider’s fault. The website above cites all sorts of FCC mumbo-jumbo stating regulations for 911 compliance…for wireless carriers…and they’re just assuming that since VoIP is also providing a dial-tone, then the same regulations should apply. They don’t realize that if VoIP fell under all of the existing FCC regulations, their bill from Vonage certainly wouldn’t have been anywhere near $15/mo.

Now Congress and the FCC are fighting valiantly to force VoIP providers to comply within a matter of months to standards for which other mediums were allotted many, many years, and this burns me because now instead of being able to take the time and really develop a new system that blows the old 911 emergency response component out of the water, companies are going to have to slap something together over the next few months and we’re all going to have to pay for it. Instead of leaving consumers to actually READ their TOS’s before signing on, several companies won’t even accept new customers in certain rate centers now until they’re able to provide the existing 911 services.

VoIP is still in its infant years, if anything, and it’s sad that because of the pace of the modern American, there’s a good chance that it won’t be allowed to bloom as it properly should. Point blank: if you don’t have a cell phone or another method to call 911 already in your household – and this is a concern for you – continue to pay $50/mo to Verizon or SBC or AT&T and quit standing in the way of technology!!!

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