Vonage has contracted with Verizon to allow Vonage customers to use Verizon's emergency 911 services. As a result, 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.
Delivering emergency 911 services over VoIP has been a problem for Vonage and other VoIP providers. In some instances, when 911 calls are made, the calls are sent to call centers, rather than directly to emergency personnel, and emergency personnel cannot be immediately reached. Additionally, the callback number and location may not displayed.
The announcement comes a week after the Michigan Attorney General took action against Vonage for allegedly misleading customers 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. Vonage has had no comment on the matter.
Also last week, Verizon announced that it had developed a solution to allow VoIP providers to use Verizon's enhanced 911 emergency calling system.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has yet to act on whether to require VoIP providers to provide emergency 911 services, although the newly appointed chairman, Kevin Martin, recently testified before Congress that VoIP providers should be required to provide them. However, he did not provide a timetable for action, or any details on how it should be done.