TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Texas Sues Vonage Over 911 Problem

Re: Texas Sues Vonage Over 911 Problem

John Levine (
25 Mar 2005 23:59:50 -0000

> It's not just that. To actually do the interconnection, Vonage would
> need to build some infrastructure: they'd need trunks into every LATA
> in which they offered 911.

But they already do. The phone numbers they offer are all from
facility based CLECs. I know that my number was on the Paetec switch
in Syracuse, in the same building with all the other CLEC switches and
probably the cell switches, too.

> 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. ...


> 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.

I see you've never tried VoIP service. When I signed up for Vonage,
they told me fairly clearly that they needed to know my physical
address for 911 service, so I gave it to them. Didn't ever try it,
and I'm not sure how informative a test would have been since the PSAP
for my house is the same one for the phone's rate center. Same for
Lingo, where part of my account profile is my physical address,
separate from the billing address (my po box) and the address where
they shipped the adapter.

Collecting the address is a minor problem compared to the real
problem, most VoIP carriers, with the notable exception of Packet8,
won't pay for a real E911 connection to the PSAP.

> So let me get this straight. Local (and state) gov'ts pretend that a
> 911 PSAP (Public Safety Answering Position) isn't part of the standard
> functions of government, and therefore they get the telcos to pass
> through a separate "911 fee" (read tax).

Don't be silly. Governments tax all sorts of stuff. Since PSAPs are
uniquely useful to people who use phones, there's some logic in taxing
phones to support them. I agree that the amount of 911 tax could be
better matched to the cost of the PSAPs.

> What's next? Perhaps the county will claim that libraries are
> special, so there needs to be a separate tax, excuse me, fee, on all
> book sales?

Don't be silly. We have library districts for that.



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