FCCs intentions

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2005-03-23 Print this article Print

This is, of course, the same FCC that has decided (even if it hasnt admitted to it yet) that state laws requiring unbundled data DSL were also going to discourage Internet access. Apparently the FCC thinks that consumers would rather pay twice as much and get a voice line they dont need when they want broadband.
After the Texas announcement came to light this morning, I called a couple of E911 providers to get some idea of how hard it would be to simply provide 911 services to everyone, except to those who didnt want it (such as people who use VOIP while traveling).
Click here to read more about enhanced 911 services starting to become available for VOIP users. I cant say that I was surprised to find that none of them would even discuss the issue before next week. Apparently they have to consult with their lawyers. Fortunately, the couple in Texas who were shot survived. So far, its not clear whether they understood any disclaimers that Vonage might have provided. But that doesnt excuse the company from a responsibility to provide basic services to people in danger, and 911 access is one of those basic services. Sure the states cant require it, but maybe the courts can make up for that. In the meantime, the most tragic thing about all of this is that its sure to happen again. While the FCC is allegedly considering a ruling that would require 911 service as part of the basic package for VOIP, the FCC is notable for the snails pace at which it operates. Perhaps if you have an emergency in 2010, 911 will work, but dont count on it in the meantime. But if the State of Texas prevails, at least the VOIP providers will have a reason to do what they should be doing already. And if they dont, a few incidents like this one will do more to kill consumer VOIP than nearly anything else. But maybe thats what the FCC has in mind all along.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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