1. FCC Rules Providers Must Provide 911 Access
In a decision that favors consumers, the FCC has unanimously ruled that VoIP service providers that connect to the PSTN must provide its customers with access to 911 services within the next 120 days. In addition, incumbent carriers are required to provide 911 infrastructure to VoIP service providers. Today’s decision, which effects fixed VoIP lines and nomadic phones, follows legislation introduced yesterday by the House of Representatives requiring that the FCC establish 911 regulation for VoIP service providers.
The FCC expected providers to implement 911 services when the technology became available, but instead, many major providers either opted not to support the service or to discourage access to the service by requiring service subscribers to opt-into it. Thankfully, the FCC has taken the initiative to enforce the issue rather than leave a major public safety concern in the hands of the corporate conscience.
Companies wishing to file a comment with the FCC on the ruling need to do so before Tuesday, May 24.
In response to the new decision, Vonage has said that it will offer 911 service through SBC, BellSouth, and Verizon by the end of the year, in the territories covered by those RBOCs. The provider has also changed its subscription process, allowing subscribers to now opt out of 911 access rather than opt into it.
Vonage has not publicly commented on its efforts to establish a partnership with Qwest.
Vonage has more than 650,000 VoIP service subscribers in North America.
3. Converged Access Unveils VoIP Gateway for SMBs
Converged Access has introduced Converged Access Point (CAP), a SIP/H.323/MGCP analog gateway designed for SMBs that has integrated traffic management technology, security, IP routing, and a wireless access point. The device transforms Layer 2/3 networks into application aware Layer 7 infrastructure.
Features include end-to-end QoS, support for VPNC VPNs, and auto-provisioning.
Unlike residential class products, the vendor’s device uses multiple QoS technologies to guarantee support for each voice call including packet optimization, prioritization, call admission, rate shaping, and class based queuing.
CAP is currently available. Pricing starts at $850.
5. AT&T Launches VoIP Service for SMBs
AT&T has launched Dynamic Network Applications (DNA), a VoIP service designed for SMBs and remote offices and branch offices that offers businesses multiple calling packages including local and long distance options for companies within AT&T’s VoIP footprint and a long distance option for companies outside the footprint. The service is compatible with select IP PBX models offered by Cisco and Avaya and select phone and softphone models by vendors such as Cisco and Polycom.
DNA supports mid call move, personalized call handling, simultaneous ring, click to call, locate me, on-demand audio conferencing and Outlook integration.
Future additions to the DNA portfolio will include conferencing and messaging products and services.
In a separate announcement, AT&T and SBC have extended their agreements to have Covad provide IP network access. Details of the agreement were not disclosed. The SBC acquisition of AT&T is expected to be complete within the next 9 months.