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Are you aware that Ofcom recently extended its General Condition 4 to cover VoIP services which means that, like traditional telecoms (PSTN and ISDN providers) and mobile operators, VoIP providers now need to provide the emergency services with location information for the users of their VoIP services?

Jon Farmer, Voice Technical Lead

Jon Farmer, Voice Technical Lead

The problem is that it’s not as simple as you might think. The flexible nature of VoIP is one of its biggest selling points. But it also means that the location of the end user can easily and quickly change, which means location information held by the provider can quickly become out of date and useless to the emergency services. This has been an area of debate among VoIP industry players for many years.

The reforms to Ofcom’s General Condition 4 have forced VoIP providers to act and Entanet has been amongst the first to do so, working to develop a new, secure and brand-neutral website (www.999-location.co.uk), via which end users can easily update their location information for each VoIP number they use. In addition, we have even created a short animated video to demonstrate the importance of keeping this information up to date to end users.

As a VoIP reseller you need to be aware of your obligations and ensure you fully comply with this new legislation. If you currently resell Entanet’s VoIP services, please ensure you promote this website to your end users, explaining the importance of keeping this information up to date. Alternatively, if you resell another providers’ VoIP services, you need to find out what their plans are for this new legislation and what you and your end users will be required to do. If they don’t have any plans, we’d advise you to find one that does because saying your provider isn’t compliant won’t be an excuse.

Whilst we fully understand the importance of this issue and agree that something needs to be done to ensure location information is available to the emergency services this is very complex and although the brand neutral website that we have created is an effective first step, it’s still far from being the perfect solution to the problem. Therefore, we will continue to work closely with Ofcom and other VoIP providers to implement the best solution to ensure VoIP users are not put at risk. We will of course keep you updated.

Have your say!
Were you aware of these legislative changes and what do you think of our current solution? Do you think asking end users to update a website is an effective solution to this problem? Or do you have any other ideas? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment below.

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3 Responses to “HELP! – 999 emergencies and VoIP”

  1. FYI
    The 999 website mentions watching the video – but there doesn’t seem to be a link on the site?!

    I can see why the site is unbranded as it’s not a commercial thing, but…
    it would probably be a good idea to say who is behind the site and how privacy is being handled especially as you are asking for usernames/passwords ?

    But otherwise it’s a good idea :¬)

  2. Surely, whilst many might use VoIP in a purely replacement-of-landline capacity, others (including myself) will let the access numbers follow them around as they move between physical locations.

    What is needed is not so much a ‘register the location here’ – which is really only easily maintainable for the first category – as some sort of DDNS-style service which can map the IP-in-use to the physical location.

  3. I see the 999 website still says “Watch the short video for further explanation.” – but there doesn’t seem to be a way of doing that!!!???

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