Net Telephone Services In Trouble – 911 FCC Rules Upheld

by Richard Chapo

Net telephone service providers are facing a huge problem. A court has upheld FCC regulations requiring the voice over internet protocol providers to provide 911 services.

911 Rules

As you know, traditional telephone companies provide 911 call services to customers. Under long established laws, the traditional telephone companies are required to automatically route such calls to a geographically appropriate area and deliver the originating phone number and address of the call. Net telephone services haven’t done this in the past as the technical reading of the regulations didn’t require them to. Now the regulations do and it is causing problems.

VOIP net telephone services are having severe difficulty complying with the FCC regulations. The calls are not routed through a traditional telephone line structure, which makes it very hard to determine the original calling number and address. On top of this, it is extraordinarily difficult to route the calls to the appropriate geographic emergency phone call center. Throw in politics and you have a boondoggle in the making.

911 In A Digital Age

In many cases, government agencies fail to appreciate the complexities of the Internet and digital technology. They have a habit of issuing rules and regulations that are either antiquated or impossible to implement. The FCC and FTC are famous for doing so, particularly since the agencies seem to have the technical sophistication of dinosaur. On the issue of 911 rules for net telephone services, however, the FCC has acted appropriately.

911 is a critical service that must be made available to the public. It performs a service that is both needed and necessary. As the net telephone services seek bigger shares of the commercial market, they must also assume larger responsibility for the services they provide. This is particularly true for 911 services.

911 emergency call centers help save lives. In health risk situations, time is almost always a critical component in the outcome. Given as much, the FCC has acted appropriately in requiring net telephone services to provide 911 services to customers.

Richard A. Chapo is a San Diego business lawyer with - a San Diego business law firm in San Diego, California.

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