Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Internet phone firm advances 911 service

Filed under
Sci/Tech

The nation's leading Internet telephony service moved closer to offering a complete emergency calling service Monday, signing an agreement with a vendor experienced in providing enhanced 911 data to public safety officials.

The agreement between phone pioneer Vonage and TeleCommunications Systems Inc. to provide call routing and steering services is an important component in meeting an Internet phone emergency calling requirement enacted by the Federal Communications Commission in May.

"This is a big step in the direction to get enhanced 911 running by the end of the year," said Brooke Schulz, senior vice president for corporate communications at Vonage Holdings Corp., based in Edison, N.J.

Schulz said that the company has also made progress in another vital aspect of emergency calling--interconnections with SBC Communications Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and other dominant traditional phone companies to reach public safety dispatchers.

"Things are going well," said Schulz. "We need the physical connections from the Bells, and we've made quite a bit of progress in our negotiations with them. We expect some announcements soon."

Internet telephony, also called voice over Internet protocol, uses high-speed network connections to deliver voice messages in packets, just as e-mail is delivered. The technology is cheaper and provides many new features, including mobility.

For example, a Vonage customer with a Chicago phone number can take his phone to a hotel room in New York City or San Francisco and plug it into a broadband connection there. Callers dialing the Chicago number will reach the Vonage customer wherever he takes the phone.

But this mobility poses a challenge when an Internet phone is used to dial 911. Vonage's new service will require customers to register on the Internet each time they change locations, Schulz said. It can take up to two hours once a new address is entered before the new location is fully known to the Vonage system.

No technology exists to provide location information automatically, Schulz said, although researchers are working in labs to produce it.

Some companies that offer VoIP service, including most cable television operators, do not include mobility as an option, so the problem of identifying a customer's location and directing the 911 call to the appropriate public safety dispatcher is greatly simplified.

While VoIP makes up a tiny fraction of telephone service now, analysts expect that it will eventually dominate the industry.

A survey released Monday suggests that Internet telephony's appeal continues to grow among so-called early adopters of new technology.

ChangeWave Research, which polls executives and professionals in selected industries, found that this technologically elite group is warming to VoIP rather quickly.

A survey of 1,900 respondents found that 14 percent now use VoIP in their homes. That's double the numbers from an earlier survey taken in September. ChangeWave also found that another 22 percent of respondents say they will probably start using VoIP service within the next year.

"VoIP is a fledgling industry that's growing up fast," said Tobin Smith, ChangeWave's founder.

"Wrapping 911 service into VoIP is a big hurdle that's always been there, and now the industry is addressing it," Smith said.

"You can almost guarantee that next year Vonage will go public, and the industry will really be off to the races."

By Jon Van
Chicago Tribune

More in Tux Machines

LibreOffice 4.4.4 Released

The Document Foundation today announced LibreOffice 4.4.4, the latest update to the 4.4 branch. Today's release brings 74 bug fixes including several crashes and import/export bugs. The announcement today also brought news of version 5.0 as well as reminders for the LibreOffice Conference in September. Read more

Watch: Mark Shuttleworth Talks About Telco and NFV Technologies

The Movilforum website had the great pleasure of interviewing Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical and founder of the world's most popular free operating system, Ubuntu Linux. Read more

Linux Kernel 4.0.7 Is a Small Release with Updated Drivers, ARM Improvements

On the last days of June, Greg Kroah-Hartman announced the availability of several maintenance releases for the Linux kernels 4.1, 4.0, 3.14, and 3.10. The seventh point release of Linux kernel 4.0 is a small one that brings mostly updated drivers. Read more

An Everyday Linux User Review Of Debian Jessie

I have now been using Debian for a few weeks and it is therefore time for me to write a review of my experience thus far. Debian has been around for what seems like forever now and it is the base for so many other Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Mint, SolydXK and Knoppix. I think that the general consensus amongst Linux users is that Debian is stable, dependable and a good environment on which to build upon. Does that mean it is suitable for Everyone? Read more