TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Will 911 Difficulties Derail VoIP?

Re: Will 911 Difficulties Derail VoIP?

Dean M. (
Mon, 16 May 2005 20:33:19 GMT

I see now that your proposal is: since our communications are being
decoupled from the copper wire anyway (or at the very least the low
band part of it), we should not remove (on this point, see another
posting about Verizon's FiOS offering and copper) or allow it to
decay, but use it as dedicated conduit for "utility" services like
911, alarms etc. Anything which is first location dependent and then
customer dependent as opposed to the other way around.

It's quite interesting so let's disregard any marginal issues. Perhaps
someone with a better understanding of the maintenance costs for the
copper loop can hazard a guess if these offerings could possibly make
enough money so as to sustain themselves (i.e. pay for the service
including loop maintenance and extension to new housing) without tax
subsidies. It seems to me that this is the central issue if one was to
decide such a policy shift. Would it make much sense to continue to
pay to subsidise the loop only to provide 911 when we can be fairly
certain that the investments made and tax money spent to take us to
this future all VoIP (i.e. all broadband) world we are discussing
here, can also solve any location problems associated with
broadband. In the end, why continue to support a narrowband network,
when the issue is not bandwidth but location?

If we want to solve the location problem, why not do it in the
broadband world? Better yet, why not add GPS chips to every
communication device? To safeguard privacy, these would be dormant and
would only be activated in order to transmit their location in the
event the user dials 911. Can this be more expensive than continuing
to maintain a copper loop just for "utility" services?


AES <> wrote in message

> In article <>, Dean M.
> <> wrote in response to AES
> <> proposal regarding VOIP and 911 service:

>> I'm a little perplexed by your speculation. Why would a move to VoIP
>> have anything to do with killing off use of cable/fiber/copper for
>> telco services? Are you predicting a move to a completely wireless
>> service provision or am I just misunderstanding your comments? And if
>> indeed you are predicting a move to an entirely wireless world, why
>> are you portraying VoIP as the cause for this? Can you elaborate?

>> Dean

> Apologies if I'm not making myself clear.

> 1) It seems likely that in the not too distant future telephone
> service will be almost entirely provided by (or thru) VOIP. And,
> there seem to be real technical difficulties -- in particular serious
> "caller location identification" difficulties -- associated with
> providing 911 service to VOIP phones.

> Therefore I'm trying to envision a future situation (admittedly
> hypothetical at this point) in which telephone service will no longer
> necessarily be directly linked to 911 service, and a telco connection
> will no longer be presumed (or legally required) to include 911
> capability -- or alternatively where 911 emergency response to calls
> from a given location will no longer necessarily be provided or
> connected to emergency providers through the telephone network.

> 2) As a prelude to this, I'm noting that I, and many other residences
> and businesses, will likely in the near future obtain our telephone
> service and also our broadband Internet access either via a cable
> connection, or via a neighborhood or municipal wireless service, or
> via a cell phone connection, or via a fiber-to-the-premises
> connection, rather than via a conventional twisted-pair telephone wire
> to our premises.

> If (or rather when) that happens I, and many others, will no longer
> need those copper telephone wires (twisted pairs) that currently come
> directly from a telco central office (CO) into our homes or
> businesses. (Of course if our broadband Internet connection happens
> to be DSL we will continue to need that telephone twisted pair, though
> we won't need classic phone service on that wire any more, unless
> we're really backward and still use a modem.)

> 3) Nonetheless, all the current telephone twisted pairs between
> premises and telco COs will continue to exist, unless they're
> deliberately ripped out or allowed to deteriorate. And even for new
> homes and buildings ("greenfields construction") there's no technical
> reason that similar twisted pairs can't be brought into these new
> premises as part of the cable TV connection, or the fiber, or even
> just the electrical power wiring.

> 4) So, let's think about how we might use these existing and any new
> copper twisted pairs, not for telephone any more, but for other
> "utility" purposes -- possibly including a new kind of 911 service.
> In fact, let's refer to these wires, beginning at that point in time,
> not as "telephone wires" but as "utility service wires".

> 5) So, here are just some off the cuff thoughts as to useful services
> that could be provided over these utility wires, earning income for
> some utility service provider in the process:

> a) The telco won't be able to get income any more from selling telco
> service over it's telephone wires -- pardon me, utility wires -- and
> it therefore won't need banks of telephone switches to service those
> wires in its CO any more. So, maybe it will sell all this
> infrastructure to "utility providers", or maybe it will go into the
> "utility" business itself.

> b) One utility service could be a variant of 911 service. That is, in
> case of an emergency instead of dialing 911 you just push a red alarm
> button on a kind of intercom box in your house or office and it
> connects you over the utility wires to your "utility CO" (which was
> once your telco CO). This utility CO then connects you -- perhaps
> automatically -- to the 911 emergency dispatch setup in your town.

> c) Or, maybe you still dial 911 on your VOIP phone -- but instead of
> treating this as a VOIP call, your PC connects it to the utility
> wires, which are still connected into your home LAN. (If you move
> your VOIP phone to a new location in another town, and connect it to
> the PC in the new location, that PC will still do the right thing for
> your VOIP call.)

> d) Using add'l hardware and working with the utility service provider,
> your local gas, electric and water providers will read your meters,
> not by some "dial-in" call on the VOIP network, but by a hard-wired
> connection over the utility service wires.

> e) Commercial "always on" burglar alarm and security services can be
> provided over the utility wires by security services that work with or
> are part of the utility service providers.

> f) Ditto fire alarm services.

> g) The emergency medical pushbutton gadget that your elderly grandma,
> who lives alone, wears on her wrist to call for help could communicate
> not over her VOIP telephone service, but over the utility service
> system.

> And so on for lots and lots of other things. (And note that one of
> the featured advantages of VOIP telco service is that you can take
> your VOIP phone with you and get into the Internet anywhere -- but
> these local utility services are inherently local in character, and
> are much better hardwired into a *local* structure, with no need for
> the Internet.)

> 6) Bottom line: I recognize there would be lots of thorny problems
> (including major economic and public policy issues) in getting from
> the systems we have now to some new scheme like this; and very likely
> some downsides and practical problems that I haven't even thought of.

> But just maybe, at some point, the very tight connection between
> telephone service and 911 emergency service that we're so familiar
> with now could evolve so that 911 and telco were more or less
> completely de-linked, with both needs met in innovative and more
> effective new ways. I'm just trying to do some thinking about how
> that might happen.

> So, comments welcomed ...

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