Monday, April 4, 2005

Canada Requires VoIP Providers to Support 9-1-1 in 90 Days

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a decision requiring VoIP service providers to provide the same level of 9-1-1 emergency service that is provided by the incumbent telephone companies within 90 days.

Specifically, the Commission requires VoIP service providers providing either nomadic VoIP service or foreign exchange VoIP service to implement, within 90 days of the date of this decision, an interim solution which provides a level of service comparable to Basic 9-1-1 service. In addition to the above service requirements, the Commission also requires all VoIP service providers to provide customers with notification, both before service commencement and during service provision, regarding any limitations associated with their emergency 9-1-1 service. The VoIP service providers must also secure the customer's express acknowledgement that they are aware of these limitations, prior to providing this type of service.

  • In March 2005, the state of Texas filed a lawsuit against Vonage, the country's largest Internet-based telephone service provider, for failing to make clear to consumers that the company's current service does not include access to traditional emergency 9-1-1 service. The story was widely reported in newspapers across the country. The state of Texas said the dangers posed by Vonage's failure "to clearly disclose the lack of traditional 9-1-1 access" have resulted in tragedy. On its website, Vonage says it offers 911 Dialing to all customers. 911 calls are routed from the Vonage network to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for the physical area that the subscriber designates. However, 911 dialing is not automatically set-up for use and subscribers have the option to decline 911 dialing. Email reminders are sent to subscribers about 911 calls. The Vonage website also warns that 911 dialing and Vonage Service do not function during an electrical power or broadband provider outage.


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