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FCC Again Extends e911 Deadline

Saying voice over Internet providers (VOiP) providers, including cable, were devoting "significant resources" to informing customers of the limits of their e911 service, the FCC has given them even more time to do so.

"At least 21 providers have received acknowledgments from 100% of their subscribers and at least 32 others have obtained acknowledgements from 90% or more of their subscribers," the FCC said.

"In recognition of these substantial efforts and the very high percentage of received acknowledgments, the Bureau announces that it will not pursue enforcement action against such providers. We do, however, expect these providers will continue seeking the remaining acknowledgements and will notify the Commission once they have achieved 100% compliance."
The initial deadline, Aug. 31, was providers to demonstrate that all subscribers had been informed, but the FCC last month extended that to Sept. 28. Then, on Tuesday, it said it would not enforce the requirement until Oct. 31 so long as providers reported on their progress by Oct. 25.

Specifically, cable operators, telephone companies and others have to inform their subs of any circumstances under which e911 might not be available through interconnected VoIP service (from remote locations, for example); obtain and keep a record of the affirmative confirmation of that warning from every VoIP sub, and distribute warning stickers to each subscriber outlining e911 limitations.

Suggesting that lives continue to be put at risk, the FCC put Internet phone service providers on notice back in May that they must make a workable e911 emergency service part of their Internet phone service offerings.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin led a 5-0 vote adopting the order after a parade of witnesses at the FCC's May meeting talked of children dying and family members put at risk by VoIP e911 service that did not link to qualified operators.The item requires that interconnected VoIP services—ones that permit calls to begin and end on traditional public switched telephone networks (PSTN)—deliver 911 calls to a local emergency operator as a standard feature rather than an option

"Public safety and e911 isn't something that's optional," FCC Chariman Kevin Martin told B&C. "Consumers have an expectation that when they pick up the phone and dial 911, they are going to be able to get to the police and the fire deaprtment or an ambulance when there is an emergency."

Martin says the more important deadline is a November one for making sure that interconnected services are required to route the calls to a local operator.