911 for VoIP on the Way From AT&T

Ahead of its ambitious launch of residential Voice over IP services this spring, AT&T is sending a message to the market that it hasn’t forgotten 911 services with the deal.

The Morristown, N.J., carrier giant has teamed with Intrado , a software provider for emergency networks, to develop 911 calling features for the VoIP service.

AT&T spokesman Bob Nersesian said with Intrado’s technology, 911 calls on the VoIP service would be prioritized and routed over AT&T’s IP network to pubic safety answering points (PSAPs), which handle calls and dispatch police, fire and medical personnel.

The Intrado-powered system will be included in early rollouts of the service this spring, he said. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

While savings from switching from traditional wireline service to VoIP are attractive for many consumers, customers and regulatory authorities have voiced concerns over the availability and reliability of 911 services as part of a VoIP offering.

By teaming with a company with 25 years in the emergency software systems business, AT&T said it is looking to offer customers “peace of mind” along with their IP-enabled phone service. The telecom giant said it would continue to work to upgrade the 911 feature, adding new Internet-driven capabilities.

Winning over customers is important for AT&T. In recent years, the company’s long-distance revenues have dropped as customers defected to regional telecoms and national wireless providers. By embracing the new technology, which promises lower network management costs and long-distance bills, AT&T could win them back.

But the company isn’t alone. Earlier this year, upstart VoIP player Vonage
began testing
911 calling capabilities, complete with location-based connection to PSAP.

A spokeswoman for Intrado said the company has also worked with Vonage.

News Around the Web