Senate trumps the FCC on e911 rules

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Tom Keating
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Senate trumps the FCC on e911 rules

The Senate has put the FCC deadline on hold with a piece of legislation passed late yesterday. Boy, with Democrats calling for an unusual closed session to talk about investigating pre-war intelligence, and all the partisan bickering, it's a wonder to me any legislation gets passed. In any event, the new law redraws the VoIP E911 guidelines the FCC has set giving more flexbile options to VoIP providers.

Importantly, the bill gives VoIP service providers access to the same Emergency 911 services as wireless service providers and also scolds the FCC for setting unreasonable compliance conditions (i.e. cutting service to cuistomers that do not acknowledge 911 limitations)

The IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005 was passed unanimously and sets new guidelines for the FCC. One of the most important parts of the bill is that it requires the FCC to formulate new rules for VoIP E911 within 120 days, which in effect erasies the FCC's impending November 28 compliance deadline. This deadline was the latest in a string of deadlines and extensions, but it appeared this deadline was the end of the road, which was causing great concern amongst the VoIP service providers

Another critical aspect of the new law is that it gives VoIP providers direct access to the traditional E911 network instead of forcing them into using third-party e911 solution providers or complex work-arounds. I wonder how this will affect Intrado, whose entire busines model is around offering e911 access?

"The legislation ensures that IP phone companies have access to E911 components that may be controlled by competitors, which the FCC order… did not do," said the committee's statement. "[It] provides the liability protection that public safety and industry groups need to be able to provide 911 service."

So, the much ballyhooed VoIP e911 problems talked up by newspapers, online articles, and bloggers were all for nought. Problem solved. Now can we move on and discuss more interesting things than e911?



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