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VOIP Providers Ask FCC to Stay 911 Order

An alliance of Internet telephony providers Tuesday petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for an administrative delay of an order requiring that providers furnish 911 service for all Internet phone users by Nov. 28.

"We don't think it is technically possible to comply with the deadline," said Jason Talley, chief executive officer of Nuvio Corp. (search), a VOIP (search) (voice over IP) provider, based in Overland Park, Kan. "We're asking them to see if they agree that it is not practical to meet the deadline," he said.

Nuvio's petition, filed Monday, was joined by three other firms, including Lightyear Network Solutions, LLC, Lingo Inc. and i2 Telecom International Inc., said Talley.

"We will give them about a week to review the matter. If they don't agree that another 18 to 24 months are needed, we will file a motion for a stay with the court in Washington, D.C."

Some experts say they think that the FCC will deny the administrative request for a stay.

Telecom lawyer Jack Nadler (search), with the firm of Squire, Sanders and Dempsey LLP, predicted the FCC will not grant the stay because the commission has attached a "great deal of significance" to the order.

But others are more sympathetic.

"We are disappointed that companies are not ready to comply with E911 guidelines," said Raj Dandage, chairman of the American Disaster Preparedness Foundation (search), based in Chicago.

"But we have always felt that the FCC deadlines for E911 compliance have been unreasonable," he said.

Dandage said that the Internet telephony industry is making progress toward a uniform, national E911 standard that would enhance safety for all mobile phone users.

Companies like VOIP Inc., which built the nation's first private network 911, called VoiceOne, have been working with service providers, resellers and others, seeking to implement the FCC's requirements to ensure reliability and quality of e911 calls.

The company is making money, too, and has gone to a $50 million run rate this year after starting up just 18 months ago, a company spokesperson said.

Another firm, Intrado Inc., a provider of Enhanced 911 services for wireless, has a number of E911 deployments throughout the United States, a company official said.

However, that limited success is far from the norm, apparently, experts said.

"We believe there is still work to be done," Dandage said. "I would presume that the FCC feels the same and will extend the deadlines, he said."

Talley said that Nuvio has been working to provide E911 to its VOIP users.

But the FCC's requirement that the order be implemented in 120 days is "arbitrary and capricious," he said.

"No service provider is going to be able to provide a nationwide solution for nomadic VOIP users, and this order is inconsistent with the commission's past decisions regarding implementation of E911 capabilities by other service providers, such as wireless," said Talley.

Though four firms participated in the administrative stay request, over the last few months, other firms have sought advice from the FCC regarding the deadline and what they should do if they cannot meet the deadline.

Check out eWEEK.com's VOIP & Telephony Center for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.

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