Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

 

DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSIONER GINO MENCHINI AND NYPD COMMISSIONER RAYMOND W. KELLY ANNOUNCE THAT ALL NOMADIC VoIP TELEPHONE COMPANIES ARE NOW PROPERLY SENDING CALLS TO THE CITY’S 911 CALL CENTER

Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) Commissioner Gino P. Menchini and New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today announced that New York City is the first city in the nation to offer an E-911 solution for Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone subscribers.

This solution addresses a major emergency dialing problem associated with "nomadic" VoIP services. Nomadic services allow subscribers to move their VoIP phones from one location to another with access to a high-speed Internet connection. Prior to this implementation, the 911 dialed calls of nomadic VoIP subscribers were not routed to trained calltakers at the City’s 911 phone system. Rather, they were directed by VoIP companies to a telephone on the desk of an administrative employee. The administrative phone line was not equipped to address an emergency. Today’s announced implementation is the first of its kind in the US.

"The VoIP/911 solution exemplifies what can be accomplished when government and industry work collaboratively," said DoITT Commissioner Gino Menchini. "The City of New York recognizes that VoIP offers great potential for new competitive communications services and we encourage its continued growth. At the same time, however, 911 is at the very heart of government’s public safety responsibility. I believe this implementation both strengthens the VoIP industry and upholds government’s responsibility to protect human life and property.

"I want to thank Verizon for being the very first Bell operating company in the country to provide VoIP service providers with access to its 911 emergency calling system and for making the implementation of a VoIP/911 solution in New York City a top corporate priority," continued Commissioner Menchini. "I also want to thank those nomadic VoIP companies that have committed to providing their subscribers with VoIP/911 service in New York City, including Vonage, AT&T’s CallVantage service, Primus’ Lingo service, and Verizon’s VoiceWing service."

"The public’s expectation that emergency help will be available when dialing 911 on a telephone—any telephone—is justified by 40 years of doing just that. Nothing short of maintaining existing 911 public safety standards is acceptable to us and the public we serve," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

"I want to congratulate Mayor Bloomberg, NYPD, DoITT and the VoIP providers on working together to address this critical public safety issue," said New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman William M. Flynn. "Access to effective 911 service for VoIP customers is clearly a core public interest, and I look forward to working with the industry to develop statewide solutions."

To implement this solution, local VoIP providers and Verizon have worked closely over the past several months with NYPD, DoITT and the PSC. Among other available solutions, 911 technology provider, Intrado Inc., developed and deployed new infrastructure for its VoIP service provider customers to deliver calls into the City's existing dedicated 911 network.

The effort began when NYPD observed an influx of calls from VoIP customers to one of its administrative lines late last year. In total, over 6,000 calls were received from VoIP subscribers to this line. With the current implementation, such calls will now be routed to 911 call takers and will include caller ID and location information.

The City’s VoIP/911 initiative has been closely watched as a model, particularly in light of a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order, which mandates the implementation of enhanced VoIP/911 service nationwide by later this year.

The City has found that the disclaimers certain VoIP providers use to describe the limitations of their emergency dialing capabilities can be very obscure. Therefore, the City urges VoIP subscribers to carefully read the fine print, particularly of off-shore companies that can potentially operate outside of the City’s implementation and new FCC rules. Most importantly, all nomadic VoIP customers should be reminded that, when moving their Internet phone from one location to another, they still must provide their VoIP service providers with an updated address so that their location information can be accurately presented in an emergency.

New York City’s 911 answering center receives approximately 30,000 calls a day and 12 million calls a year. To handle this load, the City utilizes a sophisticated 911 call routing system and employs approximately 1,300 trained 911 calltakers.

Contact:
Jonathan Werbell (212) 788-2973