Legislation Requiring e911 Capability in VoIP Phone Systems

By Lori Shepherd
Updated: March 01, 2011

Great news for users of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephones facing emergencies requiring 911 calls. Today VoIP can call 911, but only after first being routed to third party telephone companies. However, with the e911 legislation underway, this changes allowing users direct access to emergency dialing for help. The bill now moves to the full Energy and Commerce Committee for review.

The e911 bill is the culmination of more than a 6 year effort to requiring VoIP providers to comply with Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2005 rules mandating internet telephone companies enabling customers to access 911 emergency calling even though telecoms weren’t required to open their infrastructures for the VoIP providers to make direct e911 connection. According to Representative Ed markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Subcommittee of Telecommunications and the Internet, said in a statement "The e911 legislation is designed to ensure that a consumer calling 911 in an emergency from an Internet phone can do so with a degree of confidence matching that of traditional phone service and wireless service."

The 911 Modernization and Public Safety Act, approved Oct. 10, would give VoIP providers direct access to the e911 system backbone. In addition, the legislation would extend liability protections to VoIP service providers as well as is the case for traditional land lines and wireless carriers.

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