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Networking this Week: States Sue Vonage Over Emergency 911

It wasn't a good week to be the national VoIP provider Vonage. First, the Michigan Attorney General notified Vonage that it will take legal action against it for allegedly misleading consumers about Vonage's emergency 911 services. The Attorney General claims that Vonage customers in Michigan may not have access to traditional 911 emergency services, even though the firm implies that they will.

What started off badly soon got worse. Connecticut followed suit (literally) when its Attorney General sued Vonage for allegedly misleading customers over the company's ability to connect them to 911 emergency services --- in essence, making the same charges that Michigan made, and that Texas had previously made as well.

Ironically, this week Vonage also took a step toward solving its 911 problem, when it contracted with Verizon to allow Vonage customers to use Verizon's emergency 911 services. This means that whenever a Vonage customer dials 911 within Verizon's territory, the caller's location and callback number will be delivered to emergency services personnel, in the same way that wireless and landline information is delivered via 911.

That's still only a patchwork solution, and it's still only for one VoIP provider. But published reports this week said that the FCC may vote to require that VoIP providers deliver full 911 services by September of this year. How the providers will be required to do is remains vague, but then again, it's the federal government we're talking about, so are you surprised?

Even the 911 problem won't stop the VoIP juggernaut, though. A report out this week found that VoIP is killing traditional telephony. Info-Tech Research says that by 2008, 50% of small- to mid-sized enterprises are expected to rely on VoIP.

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