The FCC is so concerned about the possibility of an e911 problem for VoIP it’s calling on providers to completely shut off some customers’ phone service. Make sense? Not to us either. The FCC said Tues if a provider hasn’t received acknowledgement of VoIP’s e911 "limitations" from 100% of its customers by Aug 29, the next day it must disconnect all customers who haven’t responded. Regardless of the reason, the customer would be stuck without a dial tone-and all this in the name of safety. — A Brief History: This harkens back to a June 3-released VoIP order from the FCC intended to make sure companies like Vonage provided e911 service (for the record, cable has 100% compliance in providing e911). Another part of that order required "interconnected VoIP providers" to notify customers of VoIP e911 limitations by July 29 and receive acknowledgement of that notice from customers (too fast to include in a billing cycle). Tues the FCC decided to take that a step further by extending the deadline for notifications/acknowledgement to Aug 29, but it added the clause about disconnecting customers’ VoIP service. The order caused confusion from the start. First cable operators had to figure out if it applied to them. Some interpreted the original order to mean the e911 notices had to be distributed by July 29-and customer responses weren’t due until Nov. — Back to Our Story: With VoIP available across its footprint, Time Warner likely will have the most customers to notify. "We have been in compliance with the technical requirements of the order since we launched our Digital Phone service in 2003," an exec said, noting TW’s always offered full e911 services. "We have also always taken affirmative steps to notify customers and ensure that they understand the ways in which Digital Phone e911 services differ from those offered by incumbent wireline telephone providers. As we have been doing since the original order was released, we are continuing to make any necessary changes to ensure that we are in compliance with the Commission’s rules." — Think About That For A Minute: "In 35 years of working with the FCC I don’t think I have seen anything quite as mindless as this," our columnist Steve Effros says. "In order to enforce a confusing demand for government notification to our customers about potential safety issues and an unusual required acknowledgement back from them, the FCC is putting our customers at immediate risk by forcing a cutoff of telephone service, including e911? The cable industry should be in court [today] to protect our customers’ safety. The FCC is doing the opposite."

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