Earthlink's e911 programming snafu?

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Randy Savicky
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Earthlink's e911 programming snafu?

Is Earthlink having an e911 programming issue? A reader wrote me saying:

I'm an Earthlink VoIP customer since December '05 and Earthlink cannot set up an e911 address that is different from the billing address. I've had multiple tickets open with their (so-called) customer service since intitial activation. Is this somehow related to the Packet8 "separate number for e911" I read in a previous blog or just incompetence on Earthlink's part? Every time I've to check on this (Earthlink never updates on my issue) I get what appears to be a "form letter" saying my issue is being resolved and my e911 address will be corrected with 24-48 hours. One gentleman did tell me that they were unable to correct my problem and did not know when or if they ever would.

This sounds to me like they programmed their e911 service to use the billing address location as the actual physical location of the VoIP subscriber instead of separating the two. In most cases, the billing address is the physical location, but not always. Some VoIP subscribers may use a business credit card along with their business address but have the Earthlink VoIP service in their home. I'm sure there are countless other examples of where the billing address is different than where the VoIP service is being used. Heck, that's why .com ecommerce sites let you specify a mailing address and billing address since they often differ.

I checked Earthlink's website to see what if any information they had on e911. On their website it states, "You must register the exact physical location with EarthLink for the E911 service to function properly." Ok, nothing about forcing the billing and service address having to be the same. I read further, and their website states, "If you move the device to a new location, you must register the new location with EarthLink immediately." At first, I interpreted this to mean that Earthlink enables their VoIP customers to temporarily move the ATA device to a different location, (i.e. a hotel), but they are asking the customer to register the new location. So it sounds to me like you don't need to change your billing address. However, this sentence could just as easily be interpreted as EarthLink assuming you have permanently moved the device and therefore you have a new billing address and therefore you must change both the billing address and the registered location.

Requiring this seems a bit odd to me, so I'm going to contact some people over at Earthlink and see what they have to say. I'll keep you posted.


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