Saturday, March 25, 2006

Vonage 911 Caller Put On Hold While House Burns Down

Consumer Affairs News reported A Minnesota homeowner charges VoIP provider Vonage put him on hold when he called 911 to report his house was on fire. The home was a total loss. Loren Velthamp of Chanhassen, Minnesota, said he grabbed the phone and called 911 when he realized a fire has started in his home. "I called 911 using Vonage broadband and they put us on hold," Velthamp told KSTP-TV in Minneapolis. “Unbelievable… your house is burning down, and you're put on hold by Vonage.”
That is outrageous
Fire department officials say that by the time fire crews arrived on the scene, the fire had become a five-alarm blaze. No one was injured, but they described the dwelling as a total loss.

The incident has raised anew the question of how VoIP services, which provide telephone services over the Internet, interface with community 911 emergency services systems. Because the calls aren't routed through the land-line telephone system's infrastructure, there has to be way to transfer into the 911 system that serves the nation's 6,200 emergency call centers. That transfer has posed numerous stumbling blocks so far, both technical and political. As it now stands, VoIP 911 calls can be unreliable. Calls made after normal business house may be misdirected to emergency-services administrative offices, where the caller gets a recorded message. Even when the VoIP 911 call does make it to an EMS dispatcher, it sometimes lacks the information traditional phone services provide, like the caller's address and telephone number.
Does anyone know whether this same problem applies to the digital phones that Cox is pushing, offerring for $4.95 a month for 6 months (originally for a year) to get your phone business?

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