Friday, July 29, 2005 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Stupid FCC VoIP E911 Mandate--Part 2

From the Public Notice:

Further, we expect that if an interconnected VoIP provider has not received subscriber acknowledgements from 100% of its existing subscribers by August 29, 2005, then the interconnected VoIP provider will disconnect, no later than August 30, 2005, all subscribers from whom it has not received such acknowledgements. As such, providers may wish to inform subscribers that their VoIP service will be disconnected if they do not provide their acknowledgements by August 29, 2005.

So the FCC is ordering providers to disconnect customers for failing to give a 911 acknowledgement. That will improve public safety how? Surely this is a first for a regulator: kicking subscribers off the network in the name of public safety to save them from their decision to subscribe to VoIP.

Since melodramatic rhetoric is mandatory when talking about 911, who is responsible if a VoIP subscriber who is disconnected September 1, 2005 for failing to give a subscriber acknowedgement needs to dial 911, but has no access?

Honestly, by definition, the FCC's notice mandate is aimed at the most inattentive consumers. The mandate aims to force those who already subscribe, who already have received the first set of notices about VoIP's E911 limitations and overlooked them, and who thus blithely glide through life unawares that locational information must be inputted with VoIP service, to pay attention. Certainly, cutting off one's phone service will get the attention of even the inattentive. But, as a consumer, you are that inattentive, it would seem plausible that not until you pick up your phone and there's no dial tone would you try to discern the reason why. Since this is VoIP, you'd probably first try to troubleshoot your modem and electronics before actually calling you provider.

Though it seems dubious marketing, the VoIP providers should put a sticker on their equipment: "WARNING: The FCC will disconnect your service if you don't take the exact steps they want you to in order to protect you from yourself." Freedom of contract in the regulatory world? We have a long way to go...

posted by Ray Gifford @ 1:13 AM | VoIP