Sunday, April 03, 2005

VoIP's Call for Help

MIT Tech Review: VoIP's Call for Help
The pre-recorded voice on the other end of the phone was not what 17-year old Joyce Johns -- whose parents had just been shot in the living room of their home -- wanted to hear.

"Stop," the voice began. "You must dial 911 from another telephone; 911 is not available from this telephone line. No emergency personnel will be dispatched. Please, hang up now and dial 911 from a different phone...

...Why couldn't Johns call 911 in her moment of utmost need? Because her family was using phone service from Vonage, the leading voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone service in the United States.

The 911 emergency service doesn't come preinstalled with the basic Vonage package. To activate the account, users need to provide the company with a street address, a fact the family didn't realize.

VoIP is great, but beware the possible implementation pitfalls when using VoIP services or Skype. Further down the article, a spokeswoman from Skype actually said that Skype is supposed to be an add-on service and doesn't recommend that we drop our regular phones. That being said, convergence is making progress but there's still a long way to go!

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