SBC to offer E911 access to VoIP providers? Oh yea? I want these 12 questions answered first

Sorry, but I am still skeptical over the timing and scope of SBC's announcement yesterday that, the company has plans that in the words of my colleague Alorie Gilbert will help Internet phone companies "offer more reliable 911 services for their subscribers."While SBC says that the service will permit emergency dispatchers to see the address and call-back numbers of VoIP callers at fixed locations, that's just not enough.

Sorry, but I am still skeptical over the timing and scope of SBC's announcement yesterday that, the company has plans that in the words of my colleague Alorie Gilbert will help Internet phone companies "offer more reliable 911 services for their subscribers."

While SBC says that the service will permit emergency dispatchers to see the address and call-back numbers of VoIP callers at fixed locations, that's just not enough.

It seems that the media are adapting a fawning attitude toward these pronouncements on the part of Qwest, Verizon, BellSouth and SBC. They are not asking the tough questions.

But I will. That's why you've come here.

There are some questions I'd like answered:

First of all,  why are you, SBC - which up until a few weeks ago was fighting requirements to offer this access - all of a sudden touting this access as something that must be accomplished? Do you just suppose this mad scrambling is an attempt to ward off the necessity for an FCC edict when the governing body meets next Tuesday?

SBC, are you being advised to make these good corporate citizen statements because your investment advisors wouldn't want your stock to be negatively impacted by such an FCC edict? You know that to be confrontational in the face of regulatory dictates means legal struggles, and major investment portfolio managers hate uncertainty and doubt?

When will such services become totally seamless? What's your time frame? To put it another way, when can most VoIP subscribers expect this service as a matter of course, rather than being told its being worked on? Let's just say my aunt, who has minor strokes every three days, is living with us, and we are in an SBC calling area. I don't want to sign up for VoIP until E911 access is transparent. Given that you were fighting this notion as late as just a few weeks ago, how can I expect you to enable it across the VoIPosphere right away? Any technology solution involving multiple providers and multiple systems involve workarounds and testing - not just throwing a switch. If it is going to take six months for all the kinks to be worked out, tell us. I don't want to order VoIP from one of your competitors and then bury my aunt because E911 coughs.

Are your lawyers and lobbyists advising you to make nice? These folks may have your best interest at heart, but as many of our readers know, these people come out of the womb in permanent CYA mode. It's why they become lawyers and lobbyists.

How will this VoIP service 911 access be enabled? Will third-party solutions be employed?

What about standards? Do you really think that the technical standards for E911 will be in place all that quickly, or as in most other standards, will there be warring protocols and camps? If it is going to be quick and easy, why did no less a figure than Vonage CEO Jeff Citron tell Advanced IP Pipeline just yesterday that, in the words of highly knowledgeable Advanced IP Pipeline's Paul Kapustka: "undue haste in applying VoIP 911 regulation could lead to a mishmash of implementation efforts which could be more costly and less efficient in the long run than an industry-wide standard implementation (which might take longer to develop and deploy)."?

If you enable E911 infrastructure access to the VoIP providers, will you charge VoIP services a fee- even a nominal one which should they accept, will be passed down to end-user customer subscribers as one of those incomprehensibly worded but mandatory $.43 cent charges on VoIP service invoices to customers?

Who pays the cost of implementation, ongoing monitoring, QoS?

Who- you, the VoIP access provider, you, or some unforseen third party, is liable if for some reason, access to 911 fails during an emergency call? We all know even the best-planned networks go down. That's why I want this question answered.

Are you making this service available to all fixed VoIP carriers? If not, why? Or are you just seeing this access as a marketing opportunity?

What about softphone users? Are you working on solutions that will help them obtain access to E911?

Why no true E911 when the caller is at different location than the one on record?

I can think of other questions as well, but this is a start. Do you have questions as well about or for, these suddenly nice major telcos? TalkBack to us.