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Here’s a term that you may have never seen before – or may have just recently started to notice: “VoIP” or “VOIP”. It stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol”, and it refers to the process of sending telephone calls over the internet. That may not sound like a big deal, but it is! We currently have a huge analog phone infrastructure that handles telephone calls. That can all go away as voice is transmitted over the Internet just like any other data.

So if you’re not conversant with this new technology, I’d suggest you take a few moments and read some of these articles. VoIP is here and it will affect your life.

December 2003 – Here’s a brief introduction to VoIP by Cheryl Heppner.

February 2004 – VoIP is really taking off, and we need to ensure that it remains accessible to people with hearing loss. The accessibility issue was raised at a recent FCC Forum on VoIP.

July 2004 – Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is here and growing. And it’s threatening YOUR telephone access!

October 2004 – One of the issues with VoIP has been that the 911 system can’t automatically determine the location of VoIP callers. Now that issue seems to be resolved.

May 2005 – The FCC rules that VoIP providers must provide reliable 911 service, and must also be able to identify the location of the caller.

June 2006 – COAT Applauds FCC Decision


VoIP Providers Must Provide Reliable 911 Service

If you’re among the 1.5 million people who have switched to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service, you’ll probably be happy to know that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is requiring that within 120 days, VoIP service be able to successfully complete 911 calls, and that the dispatcher be able to determine the location of the caller.

You may be surprised to learn that VoIP is currently under no such requirement.

The ruling follows the death of a Florida infant, whose mother was unable to complete a 911 call using her VoIP service.

Location determination and 911 connectivity are issues with VoIP, because the service is theoretically available from any Internet connection. About half of VoIP customers get service from their cable television providers, who typically do provide 911 compatibility and location determination, because a customer’s cable service is available only at one particular location.

Unaffected by this ruling is the much broader question of whether VoIP service will be regulated as a telephone service or as a data service.