Level 3 to Expand E-911 VoIP Reach

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.

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