The general interest news media, and dare I say much of the technology press itself - does a poor job explaining exactly what the problems are in upgrading VoIP services to E911.
Some media outlets offer a gross oversimplification: E911 doesn't work in VoIP, and here's a tragedy to prove it- but with E911 VoIP now mandated, first-responders and Internet phone companies will finally have an implementation-path road map with some destination signs.
But you can't fool Phil Weiser, an associate professor in the University of Colorado's interdisciplinary telecmmunications program.
Prof. Weiser is "wiser." He knows what one of the key roadblocks is:
Institutional Resistance on the part of the nation's E911 infrastructure.
"The technology that supports the nation's 911 systems is about as antiquated as anything in the telecom universe," Prof. Weiser tells the Denver Business Journal's Bob Mook.
Mook points out that Currently, there's little consistency between the technology and response protocols between the nation's Public Safety Answering Points or PSAPs. These are the operations that handle and route incoming 911 calls. .
Weiser tells Mook that part of the problem is that no constituency is demanding that the systems be upgraded to serve an increasingly portable telecommunications industry.
"Many local safety agencies are comfortable with what they have -- the technology is not perfect but it's theirs," he said. "And they're not financially or technically poised to make improvements."
So then guess who is saddled with this responsibility? The VoIP providers, who are racing with a bevy of third-party E911 solution vendors to test and deploy solutions in time for the FCC's November deadline.
I know this much. When you ask technology companies to floor it, that means that things have to happen faster. And the more urgency is involved, the costlier they will be in terms of capital expenditures.
Weiser sees a very near-term future in which many VoIP providers will most likely file "hundreds of (E911 compliance) extension requests."
Mook adds that Weiser tells him "the real solution for the 911 problem is to provide adequate funding to allow states to upgrade their own emergency systems for the Internet age."