Emergency calls to 911 are expected to become more reliable with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to treat VoIP providers as well as providers of wireline and wireless in equal footing with traditional phones.
The FCC has decided to require all providers of interconnected VoIP service for reporting network outages with the suppliers of mobile phones and service to follow.
The purpose of the recent decision is to create an emergency call 911 more reliable in the system and make the entire U.S. communication infrastructure available in times of crisis.
"We are helping to ensure that consumers have access to reliable telephone service, especially when you call 911, if using a traditional phone or one that works for interconnected VoIP service," said FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski in a statement. "Public safety is a central mission of the agency."
Voice over Internet Protocol use is steadily rising – around 31 percent of the subscriptions to your home phone will now show how to use the VoIP service, according to the FCC. And now, the commission trying to catch up.
Currently, the FCC rules covering information interrupt the wired and wireless platforms, but not VoIP. Because of this, the FCC is not informed about the cuts that could affect millions of customers in several U.S. states, which is what happened during Hurricane Irene last summer of 2011.
The decision means that the FCC now have reports to track and analyze information on cuts of VoIP and have a better idea of what is happening with the 911. The FCC can then use this information to decide if something must be done to avoid disruptions in the future.
"The FCC has the legal obligation to ensure that the public can make emergency calls, especially when faced with life-threatening situations," said Genachowski.
Although the FCC made this decision, which is still waiting to take action on similar issues, such as reporting of service interruptions in broadband Internet.
In other news from the FCC, the Commission also decided today to tighten the rules against telemarketing calls and spam texts. Now telemarketers have to ask permission in writing prior to contact with consumers, telemarketers are also required to provide a method of exclusion to all consumers who receive their texts and calls.
9-1-1 is the emergency telephone number for the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). It is one of eight N11 codes. The use of this number is for emergency circumstances only, and to use it for any other purpose (including non-emergency situations and prank calls) can be a crime.