VoIP E911 Deadline Looming, So Is Litigation

VoIP provider Nuvio says it will go to court no later than
Nov. 14 to halt a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order that
Internet telephone companies provide E911 calling ability by Nov. 28.

Citing public safety concerns, the FCC ruled in May that all IP phone firms’
systems that interconnect with the public switched telephone network (PSTN)
must provide E911 operators with the location of callers.

Because of the inherent portability of VoIP phones that work with any
broadband connection anywhere, providers are struggling to beat the 120-day
compliance clock.

“No service provider is going to be able to provide a nationwide solution
for nomadic VoIP users,” Nuvio chief Jason Talley said in a statement,
noting wireless phone providers were given 10 years to meet their E911

In an FCC filing earlier this week, Nuvio asked the agency to stay the Nov.
28 deadline. If the FCC does not stand down, Talley said he would pull the
trigger on the August appeal Nuvio filed in
the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia.

“We view Nov. 14 as a red-letter date on this matter, and if the FCC is
unprepared to deal with the reality of the marketplace, we will be forced to
ask the [court] to do such,” Talley said.

The FCC, Talley claimed, has “either been unwilling or unable to tell us how
to accommodate users that fall outside of the E911 services we will offer.”

There is also the question of what providers must do with existing customers
who have not affirmatively acknowledged the limitations of their VoIP
emergency caling service.

In the same May meeting that set the Nov. 28 clock ticking, the FCC mandated
all VoIP providers inform their customers of the service’s limits. The FCC
also required customer acknowledgement by end of July. For customers who did
not acknowledge, the FCC said their service had to be terminated.

The deadline has been extended three times.

“While we share the Commission’s concern about deploying 911 service, and we
have worked diligently to provide our users with 911 access, the 120-day
requirement imposed by the FCC is arbitrary and capricious,” Talley said.

According to Nuvio’s August court filing, the FCC knew the technological
obstacles were “nowhere near being overcome” when the agency imposed the
120-day transition period.

Talley contends VoIP providers need an additional 18 months to 24 months to
have the right technology and third-party 911 provider relationships in

T-Mobile and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), along with
trade groups CompTel and the VON Coalition, have also filed with the FCC for
further clarification of its VoIP orders.

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