GPS Lends a Hand in E9-1-1 Solution

When the FCC mandated back on May 19 that voice over IP providers implement emergency 9-1-1 service for their customers within 120 days, there was a good deal of gnashing of teeth in the industry.

However, the FCC challenge seems to have stimulated the creative juices of technology providers. One of these, CLEC and telecommunications services wholesaler RNK Telecom, based in Dedham, Mass., today announced its E9-1-1 solution, dubbed Edison.

The essence of Edison is a cigarette-pack-size GPS unit that plugs in between the broadband connection and the telephone and transmits position information across the Internet to RNK databases.

When the customer signs up for VoIP service, RNK associates that position information with the street address supplied by the customer—which is what needs to be transmitted to the public safety answering point in a 9-1-1 call.

Any time the customer moves without telling the phone provider—or any time the position info provided by the GPS does not correspond to the registered street address—RNK contacts the customer and gets a valid address. Customers who regularly move their VoIP phone hardware between or among multiple locations can register multiple addresses.

RNK co-founder and CEO Richard Koch anticipates a later phase of development when the latitude/longitude/altitude information will be all that’s required to guide response teams to the scene of an emergency. “Right now, we don’t have systems in place to translate position into address location in real time,” Koch told Enterprise VoIP Planet. He expects this more automated solution to come along as a natural outgrowth of mapping, as well as GPS technology, though there is no current timetable for such a development.

This would cover the needs of, say, an RV owner who, though s/he may have an official home address, as an inherently nomadic customer can be virtually anywhere you might get in an RV.

The Edison system is currently in beta testing, according to Koch, and the company expects to release the technology to its customers in 30 to 60 days—well within the 120-day deadline set by the FCC.

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