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 Wednesday, April 27, 2005

FCC Chief Wants 911 Service for Internet Phones: FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said on Tuesday he would soon propose requiring Internet-based telephone providers to offer their customers emergency 911 dialing services.

After hearing reports of consumers having trouble getting through to the police when dialing from an Internet telephone, known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), Martin said he wanted to address the problem quickly.

Calls to 911 with traditional telephones provide emergency service dispatchers with the caller's number and address. VOIP providers have limited access to the systems connecting those calls to primary emergency lines and location information is not always available.

"I immediately asked our staff to develop a plan to address this issue," Martin said during a House subcommittee hearing. The proposal would "hopefully require they (VOIP providers) have 911 services being provided," he said.

After the hearing, Martin told reporters he planned to offer a proposal to the other three FCC commissioners so they could vote on it in May, possibly at the May 19 FCC open meeting.

He declined to offer more details about his plan. Martin said since the FCC insulated the Internet phone carriers from many state regulations, the agency had an obligation to act.

In related news, Verizon announced on Tuesday that it would start making its 911 network in New York City available to all voice over Internet Protocol providers this summer.

From Reuters and News.com [via my weblog]