I just received another email from Packet8 that is a bit disturbing and could have MAJOR implications for the VoIP industry. Here's an excerpt:
If I am reading this correctly, Packet8 is saying that due to the e911 regulations, you MUST click on the link within the Packet8 email and INDICATE you have read and understood Packet8's email regarding e911. If you fail to click on the link in the email, you WILL LOSE YOUR VoIP SERVICE! Finito, no dial-tone, dead air, stick a fork in your VoIP service cuz you're done!
In other words, the govenment in their infinite wisdom is forcing VoIP users to indicate to their broadband VoIP providers that they "understand the limitations of e911 service". Or is Packet8 merely misinterpreting the e911 rules? In the email it does state that for now this "clicking" requirement is "optional", so I guess there is no need to fear losing your braodband VoIP service just yet if you neglect to "agree to a government-mandated acknowledgement of e911 limitations".
Once the government changes it from "optional" to a "forced requirement", I have to wonder if email is the best form of notification. There is no way of verifying that an email has been sent, received, and acknowledged - at least from a legal standpoint. Suppose a Packet8 customer dials 911 and it fails, then sues because he never received the e911 notification email? Suppose Packet8 did not send the notification email or even suppose that they did send it but the customer never acknowledges the email by logging on and accepting the e911 limitations? Packet8 could simply change the boolean flag in the database from False to True (that the customer accepted the e911 limitations). Of course that's fraud, but it just shows how email is not the best notification method.
The alternative - calling each customer and recording the call - would provide both legal CDR recording as well as the recorded acknowledgement. However, this is cost prohibitive to new fledgling VoIP providers. I just hope the FCC will be accepting of email as a "legal" form of acknowledgement. There is some prescedent to support email notification. Regardless, there will be LOTS of irate VoIP customers if their VoIP phone service goes offline once the government MANDATES that every customer confirm "receipt" of the e911 limitations. Don't you just love governement regulation?
Anyway, I need to investigate this further Monday morning.
For now, I will paste Packet8's email. You tell me if I am interpreting this email correctly.
Dear Packet8 Subscriber,
In accordance with the recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Order regarding Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) enhanced 911 (E911) services, we would like to take this opportunity to provide you with the following important information regarding the Packet8 E911 service. Though Packet8 E911 service is currently an optional feature, it will soon be a required element of your service plan and subscribers must be made aware of the limitations of calling 911 from their Internet phone service.
Please review the content of this email in its entirety and, when you have finished, click on the link below to let us know you have read and understand the features and limitations of Packet8 E911 service. This is a requirement by the FCC and, without your acknowledgement, we will no longer be able to offer you Packet8 internet phone service.
Also, please note that Packet8's E911 service applies only to the United States E911 system. If you are using the Packet8 service outside of the United States in a country where the calling code 9-1-1 is used to reach emergency services, Packet8's E911 service will not work in these foreign jurisdictions.
As explained in the Terms and Conditions applicable to your service, Packet8 E911 service already mimics the E911service provided by traditional landline phone companies. However, we are required by FCC rules to send you this additional notice that, under certain circumstances, when you dial 911 from a phone connected to the Packet8 service, E911 service may not be available, or the E911 service may be in some way limited by comparison to traditional 911 service. These circumstances are:
• The relocation of your Packet8 broadband phone device (DTA 310, BPA 410, Packet8 VideoPhone and Packet8 Virtual Office phones/adapters) to a physical address other than that which you provided when you activated your account.
• Instances where a subscribers broadband phone device fails or is not configured properly.
• An electrical power outage, broadband internet service outage or suspension/disconnection of Packet8 service due to billing or other issues.
• A delay in the provision of Packet8 service ("dial tone") at the
physical address provided at the time of account activation, or at any other
location to which you may later move the Packet8 broadband phone device, due to the time required to process automatic number and location information to be provided to local emergency service operators. FCC regulations, effective 11/28/05, require that 911 calls be transmitted, along with automatic number identification and automatic location information, to the appropriate local public safety answering point. Automatic number identification and location information is typically populated into E911 databases approximately seven (7) days after you provide it to Packet8. However, no guarantees can be made that automatic number and location information will be available to emergency service operators and your service activated (or reactivated at a new location) within this schedule.
• Instances where the local emergency service operator receiving Packet8 E911 emergency service calls may not have a system configured for E911 services or be able to capture and/or retain automatic number or location information.
• Due to technical factors in network design and in the event of network congestion on the Packet8 network, there is a possibility that a Packet8 E911 call may produce a busy signal or experience unexpected answering wait times and/or take longer to answer than 911 calls placed via traditional, legacy, circuit-switched telephone networks.
• The incorrect identification (at the time of activation) of the actual location where the Packet8 equipment will be located. If the Packet8 subscriber fails to accurately report the actual location where the Packet8 equipment will be located at the time of activation of the service, Packet8 E911 communications may not be directed to the correct local emergency operator.
Additional information about Packet8 E911 service and the conditions necessary for its proper functioning can be found at www.packet8.net.
So that we may continue to offer you Packet8 Internet phone service, please click on one of the following choices. Failure to do so will result in an interruption of your Packet8 phone service.
Click here to submit your response (you must first login at the Packet8 homepage)
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Packet8 Customer Service