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Vonage To Make 911 An 'Opt-Out' Option

Under fire for its lack of a comprehensive solution for emergency 911 services, Voice over IP leader Vonage Holdings Corp. said it will change its registration process to make 911 services an opt-out rather than an opt-in option.

Vonage chief executive Jeffrey Citron said the company would change its registration procedures to the opt-out format "sometime this summer," as part of an overall revamping of the company's 911 services implementations. Vonage is currently facing lawsuits from several states over both the advertisment and implementation of its 911 services, which some states claim are misleading.

A recent case involving a Houston-area home break-in and shooting where a Vonage customer was unable to reach 911 prompted a lawsuit from Texas and another incident in Florida where a couple has alleged that their child died because they were unable to reach 911 via a Vonage connection have put the heat on the leading independent provider of VoIP services, which now claims to have signed up more than 650,000 customers.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Citron said the move to an opt-out system -- where new Vonage customers would automatically be signed up for some level of 911 service via the initial registration process -- could help address some of the issues raised by the states' lawsuits.

"We've met with the Texas attorney general, and are working on ways of resolving [their legal differences]," Citron said. The move to an opt-out system, Citron said, would be company-wide, and not just in selected markets.

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