CRTC orders VoIP providers to inform customers of 911 service limitations

There are two types of emergency phone service: basic and enhanced. Basic 911 connects the caller to a central call centre. From there the call is connected to the emergency response responsible for the area in which the caller is located. Enhanced 911 service automatically sends customer location information to the appropriate response centre without having to go through a call centre. How well 911 service works over IP is greatly affected by the technical characteristic of the VoIP offering. VoIP services are provided by incumbent telecommunications companies, cable companies and resellers. They can be offered on fixed/native, fixed/non-native or nomadic basis. Service levels can vary significantly.Customers must be informed

As a result of the unique characteristics and limitations of how VoIP 911 can be offered, the CRTC determined that VoIP providers must inform customers about whether enhanced 911 service is offered, whether and when basic 911 service may not function, the differences between basic and enhanced 911 and what measures a customer can take as a result of the differences.
VoIP providers must also advise customers about applicable limitations of liability by Jan. 18. They must make this information available through all means of communications, including but not limited to television, radio, printed media, sales information, Web sites, customer service agreements, terms of service, installation software and telephone set stickers.
Notification for existing customers must occur at least once in a 12-month period.
Proposed notification text must be submitted to the CRTC within 30 days of the decision so the commission can ensure that the messages are clear and accurate.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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