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LuisPR
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Joined: Oct 08, 2004
Posts: 292

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:43 am    Post subject: Vonage Defies FCC E911 Order and Continues To Market VoIP Reply with quote Back to top

Vonage, in violation of an FCC order, continues to market it's services in locations that they can not provide E911 services:

Vonage Markets on Despite FCC E911 Order
Vonage plans to continue offering service to new customers despite failing to meet the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) mandate to provide full E911 by Nov. 28 or cease marketing Voice over IP.

In a compliance report submitted to the FCC Monday, Vonage said it is capable of providing a callback number and a fixed location to 911 operators for 100 percent of its customers.

Voip, however, allows users to be nomadic, placing calls wherever there is a broadband connection. New Jersey-based Vonage, a non-cable Voip provider with approximately 1 million subscribers, reported only 26 percent of its customer base could receive nomadic E911 service.

According to the FCC, Voip providers are allowed to keep customers who do not have full E911 service but are barred from offering new service in markets where E911 can't be provisioned.

Vonage spokesman Brooke Schulz said Tuesday the company would "absolutely not" stop offering Voip to new customers, noting the company has requested a waiver from the FCC rules. "We will continue to market our service."

The company told the FCC in its waiver filing that it believes 61 percent of Vonage's subscriber lines will be E911-capable by the end of the year. Vonage added that sometime in the first half of next year, more than 97 percent of its subscribers will have full E911.

The FCC had no comment on Vonage's waiver request or its decision to continue offering Voip to new customers.

According to its FCC filing, Vonage has invested more than $50 million in its E911 deployment with 125 full-time employees dedicated to the project.

"The scale and scope of this effort are enormous and have never been attempted in such a compressed time frame prior to the FCC's order," Vonage states in its waiver filing. "During this project, Vonage found that there were few resources available to guide it in its nationwide deployment of E911 service."

In particular, Vonage said there is no comprehensive list of all of the selective routers in the United States or a list of which Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) are connected to which selective routers. In fact, Vonage claims, sometimes PSAP personnel cannot identify the selective router to which their PSAP is connected.

"Vonage ... has had to carefully and painstakingly compile the information necessary to map its customers to PSAP boundaries, map the PSAPs to selective routers and build from scratch the processes and procedures necessary [to provide E911]," Vonage said in its filing.

In May, the FCC gave Voip providers until Nov. 28 to offer full E911. Originally, the FCC planned to order Voip providers to disconnect after Nov. 28 all customers who could not receive full E911.
Earlier this month, the FCC backed off that order.

Congress also asked the FCC to modify its E911 Voip orders. When the FCC did not, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005.

The legislation contains a waiver process by which IP-enabled voice service providers may continue to add subscribers even if they are not in full compliance with the FCC.

The bill has not had a full Senate vote.

http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/print.php/3567211
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blutarsky
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Joined: Sep 06, 2005
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

today i had an interesting exchange with the Vonage folks -- i called the toll-free number to talk to "customer care" concerning my 911 service.

three days after signing up, i received an email from Vonage stating "We have completed your activation request for 911 Dialing. You may now dial 911 from your Vonage line.", so i of course thought all was fine. however, after browsing around the web interface (dashboard) i noticed that when i clicked on the 911 link, it had a warning stating that it was not automatic, that they could not locate my address, etc. on one hand, i received email from them which quoted my address and stated that 911 service was setup completely, and on the other hand their web interface made it seem like that was not the case.

so yesteray, since through the dashboard it had a message indicating my address was not found, i resubmitted my address in the 911 section. i then received an email informing me that they received my 911 dialing reqeust and would update me on status when it was on file. shortly after, i received an email telling me that "vonage 911 dialing not activated". that email said "Unfortunately we are unable to verify the physical address that you have provided."... further down in the email it suggested i call the toll-free number to get this resolved.

so i called the toll-free number and selected option #6 (if memory serves) to talk to someone about my 911 calling. he picked up immediately and asked how he could help me. i informed him that i've had the service for a couple months now, and that only recently did i realize that their web interface indicated that there was a problem with my 911 calling (even though i received an email shortly after signup that 911 dialing was setup correctly). i then quoted him the email which stated that 911 dialing was NOT active on my account and that i should call this number to get it corrected.

the guy, to his credit, was a nice guy. he seemed to want to help... but in the case of emergency 911 service i don't think a desire to help should make up for a complete inability to resolve a real problem.

he read back my shipping address from my account (which is 100% correct). he looked at what i had entered in my 911 address profile which, also, matched my real address completely. he typed that into their system to check if they could verify my address which, as the email indicated, they were unable to do. this is where the conversation turned to the surreal -- he started to read back street names which were absolutely, clearly different than mine and asking me if that was the one... that's like me saying "i'd like a red apple" and someone replying "i have some yellow bananas? how about some green grapes? or a black piece of asphalt!?"

he then pretty much gave up -- well, you're not in our system, so that's that. this subdivision has existed for like 10 years. the house has been here for nearly that long. the police have found their way here a couple times, when the alarm system went off. everyone seems to be able to find it, and yet, Vonage can't verify that we exist here! he told me "well, it goes through a third-party which uses a gps system ... blah blah blah". he then said "well, let me try to look and see if mapquest.com shows your address" (as if i'm somehow lying that the address they shipped their Vonage adapter to doesn't exist) and... drumroll... sure enough the exact address as is on file with Vonage (the one they say they can't verify exists) shows up perfectly on mapquest... the little red star marked the spot exactly.

so what happened then? well... he said he couldn't do anything more since my street doesn't exist. he then said i should reply to the email that was sent to me infoming me of the 911 problem (the very email that told me specifically to call him) and say in that email that i apparently don't exist and they can't do anything more for me. it all sounds to laughable, but i have time so sure... why not try and send it. so of course 15 mins later i receive an automated response from their email system with a list of "common" issues and how to look up the answers and -- wait for it -- to call the same toll-free number i called before. the same number that i dialed after receiving an email telling me to call, after which the guy told me to respond to the previous email, all comes back as a reply that i need to call the number again -- amazing.

anyway, i've received three more automated emails since then informing me that 911 dialing is not active (why they sent out three copies of the same email saying the same thing in short succession is beyond me). and from what i've gathered, it looks like nobody is responsible nor is capable of fixing it. but the same address they can't verify exists was totally valid for them to ship an adapter to (twice), and was totally valid for use as validation of my credit card billing info so they could get my money. again -- amazing.
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mizzpet
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 5:07 am    Post subject: E911 and GPS Reply with quote Back to top

I sympathize with blutarsky's frustration in getting E911 working, but I can also understand why there was a problem. As was said, "a third-party which uses a gps system" has to be used to verify addresses.

I am employed in the mapping industry. A GPS mapping system is actually a "GIS" (geographic information system) that includes data captured from GPS receivers logging streets as they are driven. For counties to receive federal 911 subsidization, they are required to drive (and record GPS locations) of *almost* 100% of the streets. If that was being used to verify the address, the chances are very low that an existing street address couldn't be found. Mapquest, which uses a commercial, nation-wide GIS (GDT/TeleAtlas) found the address, but the "third party" spoken of may have been using another (say NavTeq) dataset that doesn't have the street in question. Those datasets are actually rather poor. Typically, there are streets just-built that appear ... and in the same area it may be missing streets that are 10 years old. There is no nationwide high-accuracy dataset for anyone to use. Of course, USPS mail carriers know where all deliverable addresses are, but they don't have a GIS dataset for others to use!

Now, I would like to add that I cannot understand the FCC authority over Vonage (or any other Voip provider). Federal regulations are supposed to be a trade-off for a monopolistic grant given to telecommunication services - a privilege not granted to Vonage. As useful as the 911 system is, Vonage should not be forced to implement it unless they can get something for it (like law-based lowered competition). I applaud Vonage, however, for making such a dedicated effort to make it possible for their customers to enjoy that service! That Vonage is pulling together the information necessary to do it (map its customers to PSAP boundaries, map the PSAPs to selective routers and build from scratch the processes and procedures necessary [to provide E911]) is beyond the call of duty.
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Magilla
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Joined: Jan 28, 2005
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Some more info on the subject. I am anxiously awaiting e911.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/internet/11/29/internet.phones.e911.ap/index.html
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turbo53
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Joined: Jun 24, 2005
Posts: 192
Location: Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Blutarsky:

I can understand the confusion about this, but if Vonage had sent you an email informing you that 911 dialing was activiated, you probably made a mistake trying to activate it again. The Dashboard always shows a warning that 911 activation is not automatic, even after it is activated (Vonage should really change this!!)

The correct way to determine if 911 is activated for your line is to call 933. You will receive a recorded message telling you the status of your 911 activation. In my case, it says that I have 911, but not E911.

Also, if they are having trouble finding your address, go to Mapquest, look up your address, and then enter it exactly as Mapquest has it. In my case, for example, the name of my street ends with the word "Place". I tried to enter it that way and Vonage couldn't locate my address. When I checked Mapquest, it was listed as "Pl" instead of "Place". So I entered it again using "Pl" and the activation went through. I know that the rep tried Mapquest for you, but you may have better luck doing it yourself. I think the automated system is more reliable.

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ColdGin
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Joined: Oct 03, 2005
Posts: 423

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

The email I got today concerning 911 was very interesting, NDA's prohibit me from cutting and pasting it. It did say that we had filed a waiver and until we heard one way or another from the FCC we would be aggressively marketing our service and on and on. Also it said we had close to 90% of our customers set up on e911 already and the rest would be done in a few months.
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DallasFlier
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Joined: Mar 03, 2005
Posts: 277
Location: Dallas, TX

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

ColdGin wrote:
Also it said we had close to 90% of our customers set up on e911 already and the rest would be done in a few months.

Hmmm... In their legal filing with the FCC on Monday, they said E911 is currently available to 26% of their customers, said they believed 61% would be E911 capable by the end of the year, and 97% would have it by "sometime in the first half of next year."

So, they're either lying to you, lying to the FCC, or they consider 26% to be "close to 90%!" Smile

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blutarsky
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Joined: Sep 06, 2005
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

turbo53 wrote:
...you probably made a mistake trying to activate it again...

i was probably unclear about this... and i just went back into my emails to check to make sure i had the timeline correct, but a couple days ago i received an email "Vonage 911 Dialing Request Received" before i changed anything which got me looking into this. perhaps this email was fired off as a result of their switching to e911 or some other system process which was reevaluating or otherwise reexamining the address.

the original email i got right after i signed up had my entire, correct address printed as confirmation (in that email it has a message "...emergency response services in your area, based on the following address:..." which is then followed by your address on record for confirmation -- in that original email the address is correct).

in the second email i mentioned above, it said basically the same thing except my address was truncated. the correct number plus street name is 28 characters long, in the second email they chopped off the last 4 characters of the street name which i knew would obviously cause issues.

this is when i logged in to correct my address. i re-entered my complete, correct address and submitted it. the dashboard then showed my correct address and the email i received from them had it correct, as well. after that, the story picks up with the previous post i made.

i totally understand about them having to deal with a third-party, and the issue i'm having possibly being with them, but as a customer i don't really care, nor should i, where the problem is. i don't pay the third-party for any service, i pay my money to Vonage. i don't even want to know that a third party is involved (in almost *all* business, a third party is involved somewhere but it stays transparent to the end user). and instead of being passed around like a hot potato (call this number, reply to that email, call that number, reply to that email... even being told "if you can find your own gps coordinates that might help") someone should follow it through to completion once contact is made via the "customer care" line.
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HunterMcD
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Joined: Aug 05, 2005
Posts: 114

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

From what I'v seen it's close to 90% for fixed E911 and 26% for nomatic E911

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DallasFlier
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Posts: 277
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

HunterMcD wrote:
From what I'v seen it's close to 90% for fixed E911 and 26% for nomatic E911

Based on all the threads about it here, the 10% who don't have it then are sure dramatically over-represented in the forum for some strange reason then. I know I have no form of E911 yet here in Dallas-Ft. Worth.

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