FCC Gets Earful On E911


Cable companies were giving the FCC a status report Wednesday on their progress in informing Internet phone (VOIP) customers of the limitations of e911 service.

They have until the end of the month--after getting a 30-day extension--to inform all VOIP subscribers of the limitations or they must pull the plug on any subs for whom they do not have that confirmation.

Specifically, cable operators, telephone companies and others have to inform their subs of any circumstances under which e911 might not be available through interconnected VOIP service (from remote locations, for example); obtain and keep a record of the affirmative confirmation of that warning from every VOIP sub, and distribute warning stickers to each sub outlining e911 limitations.

Suggesting that lives continue to be put at risk, the FCC put internet phone service providers on notice back in May that they must make a workable E911 emergency service part of their internet phone service fferings.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin led a 5-0 vote adopting the order after a parade of witnesses at the FCC's May meeting talked of children dying and family members put at risk by VOIP E911 service (voice over internet protocol) that did not link to qualified operators.

The item requires that interconnected VOIP services--ones that permit calls to begin and end on traditional public switched telephone networks (PSTN)--deliver 911 calls to a local emergency operator as a standard feature rather than an option.

It also required the notification, with Aug. 10 the deadline for updating the FCC on their progress.

For its part, Cablevision told the FCC Wednesday its e911 service is fully compliant with the requirement for delivering calls to local operators, though not from remote locations, and that subs have been informed of the limitations via a handbook it distributes. The company says it can demonsrate 98% of customers' written confirmation of receipt.