The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is finally learning from its past mistakes. In a move earlier this week, the commission said it would require VoIP providers to offer 911 services over the next four months.
You have to tip your hat to the FCC on this one (something I don't often do). For years, the commission has fought the wireless industry on supporting 911 services and the wireless industry has thumbed its nose up at the commission missing deadline after deadline on providing 911 connections (The initial call was for wireless networks to offer E-911 services by December 2005). It's ten years later and wireless operators are still struggling with this service).
Some, like well-known VoIP maven Jeff Pulver, will question this move because of its impact on local VoIP providers and competition. I personally think the long-term benefit for the consumer outweighs the needs of the local provider. 911 services aren't a value-add option for consumers. It's a baseline service that all end users should have. And, if the FCC lets industry dictate the rollout schedule, it will be years before true 911 services will happen on VoIP connections. So let's give credit to the FCC for pushing a hard deadline here, not fault them
As members of the networking sector, there's no question that supporting VoIP will mean additional equipment costs. And, there's no question that this could hurt some local VoIP players. But, those costs are outweighed by the fact that 911 is a life-saving service that all end users must have by punching in three numbers on a VoIP client.
So what's you're take on the FCC ruling? Will it help or hurt the sector. Place your bets in our VoIP forum.