Today is the day that VoIP service providers who are unable to offer E911 service in specific regions must stop signing up new customers in those areas.
I expect a whole bunch of compliance reports to arrive at the FCC today. And, I would not be utterly shocked if the FCC grants another extension, or issues a new ruling blurring this issue even further.
I routinely receive loads of pitches for nomadic VoIP E911 solutions. Frankly, most of them are incremental, E911 infrastructure related, and/or place at least some onus on the subscriber.
But these are just incremental steps. I feel the need to explain this again.
Although the "E" in E911 stands for "Enhanced," it can also mean "Emergency."
And in a society where some of us are forgetful, not all of us are going to remember to tell our VoIP provider where we are and where we are going. Heck, sometimes we forget to tell that to our co-workers and family members. Even when it isn't an emergency.
So how do we attack this issue and solve the problem of instantaneous, foolproof, efficient E911 nomadic VoIP?
I know this isn't politically correct to say this, but the only foolproof solution to this mess is GPS capabilitity integrated with VoIP. GPS in VoIP Wi-Fi handsets, GPS location information appended to IP addresses of fixed systems, GPS in notebook PCs and VoIP enabled PDAs, like BlackBerry.
I recognize there are hindrances to ubiquitious VoIP w/GPS. It can be very difficult to obtain a GPS signal from the interior of an office building. But that's where fixed GPS locators, appended to IP addresses of PCs on a network, offer specific relevance.
That should not be a major concern. The very nature of nomadic VoIP is that you are out and about- and are probably using a device with some portability. So let's build GPS functionality into every portable device, and then have GPS location parameters mappable to E911 dispatch centers. You call 911 from your VoIP phone that generates a specific GPS reading, and our national 911 infrastructure reads your data in a nanosecond, and then routes your call to the nearest dispatcher.
Listen, people. I cannot be more emphatic. Any other solution to our VoIP E911 mess is not a complete one.