Analysts are predicting that the Federal Communications Commission will require all VoIP providers doing business in the U.S. to offer e911 service to their customers. They are also predicting that the FCC will force the phone companies to grant full access to their e911 infrastructure to the VoIP providers.
The FCC's decision is expected on Thursday and the VoIP providers would then be required to implement e911 service nationwide within 120 days. This could drastically affect smaller VoIP players since it opens a huge entry barrier to market due to the extra costs involved. Watch for a "firestorm" of controversy in the VoIP industry after the FCC's e911 decision in a couple of days.
There are third party solutions to e911 such as Intrado, but it remains to be seen if VoIP providers will "eat" the costs of providing e911 or pass it along to VoIP customers as a surcharge fee.
(My bets on a e911 surcharge fee. Too bad they can't make it optional though. Call me cheap, but I'd rather take my chances on a speed dial button to the local police and save a couple of bucks per month. How often can the caller not be able to tell the police their location? Maybe 1% of the time?)