Packet8 E911 Real Emergency Phone Service for VoIP

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Randy Savicky
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Packet8 E911 Real Emergency Phone Service for VoIP

Some E911 news from 8x8/Packet8. 8x8, Inc. (Nasdaq: EGHT) the Packet8 voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and videophone communications service provider, announced that the Enhanced 911 (E911) service it offers Packet8 subscribers, which mirrors that of legacy landline phone service providers, is now available in 2,024 rate centers covering 43 U.S. states.

Launched nearly one year ago with support from NENA, the National Emergency Number Association, 8x8's E911 service, the VoIP industry's most established and extensive offering available today, automatically routes calls and computer-based "screen pops" of caller information to emergency personnel at local Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). Unlike "911" services marketed by some other VoIP providers, whereby a call to 911 is intercepted by the VoIP provider and forwarded to a regular, non-emergency telephone number, Packet8's E911 call is routed as 911 emergency traffic and is accompanied by caller information. Packet8's E911 services enable emergency personnel to ensure that callers receive the exact same response that they receive from 911 services provided by landline incumbent telephone carriers. The Packet8 E911 implementation routes a subscriber's call directly to a 911 operator and eliminates unnecessary dialog about callers' whereabouts, which is vital in cases where a caller may not be able to verbally communicate due to an emergency condition.

The "911" calling feature marketed today by some broadband phone service providers has come under scrutiny due to a series of lawsuits and allegations imposed upon one major VoIP service provider resulting from emergency calls that were not connected and/or unanswered because of improper routing.

"The recent tragedies stemming from the marketing of ineffective '911' services could certainly have been avoided if the broadband phone service being offered had implemented the state-of-the-art E911 capabilities used on the Packet8 network," said 8x8 CEO Bryan Martin. "It is important for consumers to know that VoIP is not a commodity and that different VoIP service providers provide significantly different features and services. By choosing Packet8 with E911 as their VoIP service, they can obtain the same reliable 911 emergency calling support that they have been accustomed to receiving from their traditional phone company." Mr. Martin continued, "We strongly encourage VoIP service providers who are still mimicking '911' services as a call forwarding mechanism to drop the '911' labeling or instead provision their phone numbers through Packet8, as we believe their current practices are a disservice to consumers and to the entire VoIP industry."

911 services provided by other residential VoIP services have either not supported emergency services or have only utilized simple techniques to route 911 calls to non-emergency, 10-digit telephone numbers. These "10-digit dialing" techniques typically result in 911 calls being connected to a variety of locations including non-emergency or administrative lines of PSAPs, the "crime-not-in-progress" number of a police station, or, in some instances, invalid numbers. Packet8's E911 service, which is deployed using VoIP building blocks provided by Level 3 Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT), eliminates these issues, and delivers on the principles outlined in 8x8's agreements with NENA (available at http://www.nena.org/VoIP_IP/...FINAL%20112603.pdf).
Detailed information about Packet8's E911 service is available at http://www.packet8.net/about/e911.asp. Packet8 offers E911 service as an option on all of its service plans including its residential voice, videophone and small business services. There is an additional $1.50 per month service charge to subscribers who elect to subscribe to this optional feature.



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