Level 3 to Expand E-911 VoIP Reach

by Colin C. Haley

The wholesale network services company says the technology is important for even faster VoIP adoption.

Level 3 , which provides wholesale network services to ISPs, cable companies and telecoms, announced today that it will expand its Enhanced-911 (E-911) Voice-over-IP coverage.

E-911 provides emergency agencies with a 911 a caller's address, enabling responders to be dispatched even if the caller can't speak or if the call is disconnected.

"Our E-911 service currently reaches nearly 60 percent of U.S. households and will expand further in 2005," Paul Lonnegren, a Level 3 spokesman, told internetnews.com.

8X8, Net2Phone, New Global Telecom and Speakeasy are the only announced service providers using the Broomfield, Colo., company's E-911 VoIP service. Others are using the service but their names aren't being disclosed. There are also providers in trials with Level 3, including AOL, Lonnegren said.

E-911 is among several lingering issues being hammered out between the industry and regulators. VoIP providers prefer to choose their own systems and technologies to address public safety needs rather than face a government mandate. The FCC is still considering the matter.

Officials at Level 3 said it's unlikely consumers will fully accept VoIP as a landline replacement unless public safety features are included.

Level 3 made its announcement on the eve of the Consumer VoIP Summit, which is being held in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

In other CES news, VoIP provider Vonage and networking specialist UTStarcom announced they would bring a portable Wi-Fi handset to market by summer.

The phones are aimed at giving Vonage an edge over AT&T , Verizon and others by offering callers the convenience of a cell phone without the costs of traditional carriers.

For more information on VoIP, see internetnews.com's In Focus report.

This article was originally published on Wednesday Jan 5th 2005