TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: SBC, Vonage Feud Over '911' Service

SBC, Vonage Feud Over '911' Service

Jack Decker (jack-yahoogroups@withheld_on_request)
Thu, 12 May 2005 00:29:57 -0400

Technology Daily

By Chloe Albanesius

SBC Communications Wednesday unveiled an enhanced 911 service for
Internet telephony customers -- an offering that voice-over-Internet
protocol provider Vonage immediately characterized as half-baked.

Vonage requires its customers to request activation of its 911
service; in some cases, it directs those customers with activated 911
service who call for help to unmanned emergency facilities. This
policy has created controversy in several states due to recent
episodes in which customers in distress were either met with a
recorded message saying their phone did not provide 911 services or
were directed to the voice mail of local police administrative

SBC's service would provide VoIP providers such as Vonage with access
to its E911 database, allowing VoIP customers to reach a live operator
when dialing 911. But Vonage contended that SBC's offering would be
useless for the 40 percent of its customers who travel with their VoIP

"SBC offered a fixed solution, which would only work for local phone
numbers," said Brooke Schulz, vice president of communications at
Vonage. "The problem is that the 911 network in this country ... only
knows and understands local phone numbers." If a Vonage customer with
a Washington, D.C. 202 area-code number traveled to New York, plugged
into the network and called 911, the 911 system would cancel out the
call because it is coming from a 202 number, Schulz said.

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