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Re: More on Vonage service disruptions...

  • From: Richard Cox
  • Date: Thu Mar 03 17:41:17 2005

On Wed, 2 Mar 2005 12:39:45 -0500
"Thor Lancelot Simon" <> wrote:

> On Wed, Mar 02, 2005 at 09:46:05AM -0600, Church, Chuck wrote:
>> Another thing for an ISP considering blocking VoIP is the fact that
>> you're cutting off people's access to 911.  That alone has got to have
>> some tough legal ramifications.  I can tell you that if my ISP started
>> blocking my Vonage, my next cell phone call would be my attorney...
> Why?  Do you have a binding legal agreement with your ISP that requires
> them to pass all traffic?  Do you really think you can make a persuasive
> case that you have an implicit agreement to that effect?
> (Note that I am not expressing an opinion about whether you _should_
>  or _might like to_ have such an agreement, just my skepticism that
>  you actually _do_ have such an agreement, and can enforce it)
> The 911 issue is a tremendous red herring.  In fact, it's more of a red
> halibut, or perhaps a red whale.  Vonage fought tooth-and-nail to *not*
> be considered a local exchange carrier precisely *so that* they could
> avoid the quality of service requirements associated with 911 service.
> One of their major arguments in that dispute was that they provided a
> service accessible by dialing 911 that was "like" real 911 service but
> that was "not actually 911 service".

The problem is that, as more people take up VOIP service, it cannot be
long before some of those people start dropping wireline.  Examples of
possible places are apartment blocks, with DSL on the janitor's phone
line, and each apartment having VOIP service off that DSL.

When that happens, if VOIP access to 911/112 is still problematic, we
can expect standards for it to be mandated by governments - and they
WILL do it - there is nothing politicians hate more than an avoidable
fatality where the blame can be attributed to their failure to act.

Far better that "we" get this right in advance, so that nothing needs
to be made mandatory anyway.

Some of my responsibilities involve work protecting telecommunications
for deaf people, where emergency calls may have to be made by means
of text messages.  Some very similar issues seem to be arising there!

Richard Cox

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