When I think about my friends and family, I personally believe that a 9-1-1 call is the most important call a person might ever make. Most people I know just expect 9-1-1 to work, no matter what—and wherever they go. For the communications providers we at Bandwidth support every day, meeting consumers’ 9-1-1 service needs is a technological challenge we embrace beyond basic regulatory compliance.
I recently shared some information, together with Bandwidth’s Deputy General Counsel Greg Rogers, during a webinar on VoIP 9-1-1 trends in 2016. For VoIP providers, the ability to deliver the 9-1-1 services we all expect to work is a huge deal. Here are four of the biggest challenges our customers are facing in today’s marketplace:
1) 9-1-1 for VoIP is not the same as 9-1-1 over landlines
Unique situations apply for providers delivering 9-1-1 calls with VoIP services and those conditions become even more complicated when VoIP offerings evolve into mobile applications (as they increasingly do!).
In order to deliver effective 9-1-1 service to end-users, VoIP providers need to work closely with a VoIP Positioning Center (VPC) that’s familiar with the nuances of 9-1-1 in IP formats. The VPC also needs to understand both FCC requirements as well as proper call routing methodologies to deliver the most robust E9-1-1 services possible.
2) Errors and outages get noticed
When critical 9-1-1 services fail due to outages or system issues, VoIP providers run into trouble—not only with their customers but with regulators as well. Many of today’s regulations are geared toward the more traditional landline replacement-style IVoIP offerings. This can create gaps between what is being offered in the marketplace relative to the regulations on the books. Service providers would be wise to avoid falling into those gaps unprepared, however.
3) VoIP is going (more) mobile
No surprise here. A plethora of applications for mobile VoIP continue to explode—from OTT applications on smartphones to myriad styles of web-based RTC… consumers expect to be connected wherever they go and VoIP providers are stepping up to the plate and delivering more than ever before. But where does that leave 9-1-1 service? Well, it’s up to VoIP providers to make sure they’ve got the right partners in place to deliver their 9-1-1 calls the way that PSAPs expect to receive them.
4) Wireless is relying more on WiFi than ever before
Although we all continue to live increasingly mobile lifestyles, travel tends to be sporadic throughout the day combined with “staying put” for large chunks of time. These behavioral tendencies have fostered the ability to take advantage of inexpensive WiFi connectivity whenever an open network pops up on our smartphone screens. So, what does that mean for 9-1-1?
Anytime consumers are using WiFi…at the coffee shop down the street or in the student library, at the local shopping mall or a park…they (and our good friends at the FCC) expect 9-1-1 to work without fail. That’s why it’s critical for any service provider dealing in VoIP and cellular technologies to pay attention to 9-1-1 requirements—in 2016 and beyond.