VoIP Gets 911 Extension From FCC

    September 27, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

Providers like Vonage that have over 90 percent of their customers notified of 911 limitations won’t have to disconnect customers.

The FCC had set a deadline of September 28 for VoIP companies to have 100 percent of their customers notified and familiar with the limitations of emergency 911 service over VoIP. Now, the Wall Street Journal notes the FCC will let firms with a 90+ percentage of notified customers stand exempt from enforcement action.

In the article, 800,000-member Vonage was reported to have a 98 percent response rate from its customers. The company had said it could not make 100 percent by the September 28 deadline. 21 providers had hit the 100 percent mark, while 32 were well over 90 percent in responses.

Citing the work and resources invested in notifying customers of VoIP 911 limitations, the FCC decided to let VoIP providers at 90 percent or higher notification avoid unplugging customers from their services. Companies under 90 percent have until October 31 to make that number.

The FCC rule comes in response to several incidents where VoIP users could not reach emergency services in a timely manner. Lawsuits have been filed against Vonage and others due to the impact of limited emergency calling in some specific situations.

Portal company Yahoo has integrated voice chat into its instant messenger program, but has been quiet about any other work with its Dialpad VoIP purchase. And Google launched a voice and text messaging client called Google Talk, but that technology does not currently offer calls to regular phone numbers.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.