What is VoIP?

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What is VoIP?

  1. 1. What is VoIP? Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows people to place local and long- distance calls over an IP network, like the Internet or a cable television IP network. VoIP providers convert voice calls into packets of data that zip through a high-speed Internet connection just like email. When received, the data is re-converted for an end-user application like a traditional phone call. VoIP service is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years as it allows a consumer the option to move his or her phone from one location to another as long as broadband connectivity is available. The technology is also attractive to customers because they can typically receive local and long-distance phone service and other telephony features such as voice mail, caller identification and call waiting for significantly less than they pay for traditional wired phone service. Utilizing information technology capabilities and convergence, VoIP also allows for a number of additional features not available on traditional wired phone service. What has the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said about VoIP E9-1-1 Services? Given the far reaching capabilities, opportunity for greater consumer choice, and the numerous applications being developed for VoIP, the FCC has been generally supportive of the technology and its potential in the communications marketplace. Supporting future developments in VoIP, the FCC has issued several Reports and Orders that recognize federal authority over VoIP, including emergency communications response capabilities. On May 19, 2005, the FCC released Report and Order 05-116, which established rules for implementing VoIP E9-1-1 service and established VoIP provider obligations in deploying emergency services. The Order requires two-way interconnected VoIP providers to deploy E9-1-1 service using the native 9-1-1 network to all Enhanced Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) by November 29, 2005 (120 days after the effective date of the Order). The entire Order, including Commission statements, can be viewed at the FCC’s website at: www.fcc.gov/voip Does this website have additional info – post Nov 2005?
  2. 2. Show link to FCC FAQs ? Check out the link to the NARUC/FCC material, and the VoIP fact sheet as well – duplicates FAQ list? Do Public Safety Authorities have to submit a request to a VoIP provider to receive E9-1-1 calls in their PSAP? How will VoIP E9-1-1 calls reach the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP)? An E9-1-1 call placed using VoIP service will be routed through the 9-1-1 Selective Router to the PSAP serving the subscriber’s self-identified address using a pseudo Automatic Number identification (pANI) referred to, for VoIP, as an ESQK (Emergency Service Query Key). The ESQK is used to: • Route the call to the appropriate PSAP • Relay the Automatic Location Information (ALI) query to the appropriate third- party database VoIP E9-1-1 solutions which meet the FCC Order will provide calltakers with the callback number and subscriber provided location information for their customers who dial 9-1-1. Reasons why PSAPs may not want to take VoIP 9-1-1 calls? - fee payment - avoidance of call delivery to 10 digit numbers at the PSAP (FCC Order removed this option) - Level of E9-1-1 service - Etc - Liability Many of these issues are mitigated by pending legislation. As stated in the FCC Order, PSAPs are not required to request E9-1-1 service from VoIP providers; rather it is the obligation of the provider to interconnect to the native 9-1-1 network. VoIP service providers are actively working with PSAPs and other 9- 1-1 entities to complete the deployment of E9-1-1 service where VoIP service is available.
  3. 3. Are there any special upgrades PSAPs need in order to receive E9-1-1 calls from VoIP subscribers? If your PSAP has access to dynamic ALI data update for E9-1-1 calls, there should not be any additional upgrades required EXPAND WORDING? 1) Why are Memorandums of Understanding being used in regards to delivery of 9-1-1? Due to variations in operational and legal considerations around the country, some of the open issues are being dealt with using MOUs. Examples relate to surcharge fee replacement, testing processes, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 2) What is the typical method for VoIP delivery to E9-1-1? MAY NOT NEED- SEE VONAGE LIST – combine? The FCC Order requirements include voice delivery, with the ESQK code for routing and ALI access query, through the Selective Router, with callback number and subscriber
  4. 4. provided registered location (address) via the ALI data path. Implementation varies due to technical limitations and timeline issues, including training and testing processes. A reference document is NENA's recent VoIP Position Statement, on the website at http://www.nena.org/pages/ContentList.asp?CTID=11 3 )My understanding of VoIP calls, some with be delivered as land based [static] and some as wireless [nomadic], and will differ accordingly? We agree need 3 definitions = but better and variations use Glossary items? Nomadic calls are placed from interface devices that can be moved to any internet connection - they are not necessarily wireless. Nomadic calls are made through internet connections, such as DSL broadband, at specific locations, and are called nomadic because the user can move their interface device from connection to connection periodically, at will. During the movement, the user has no connectivity or calling capability. Static VoIP service is where the connection point is never changed. The interface device is either permanently fixed, or service is denied if the interface box is relocated. Wireless VoIP such as WiFI and WiMAX wireless services allow true mobility of the caller, similar to cellular wireless. Service is available to the device as long as it in range of a network that allows for a connection. The difference in E9-1-1 lies with the difference between static based VoIP and Nomadic (or Wireless) based Voice over Internet. Static systems typically connect through a CLEC, much in the same way a CLEC does E9-1-1 interface, and often utilizes MSAG validation, etc. Nomadic cases operate as described above in item 2 at this time. Why are Non-local telephone numbers an issue? Some VoIP service providers have also made telephone numbers available from any location in their footprint. It is therefore possible to have telephone numbers assigned to a device where the number does not match the local wireline telephone number assignments (Example – a device in Virginia can have a telephone number from New York). These non-local telephone numbers create anomalies for many of the 9-1-1 system components that were designed around the geographic relevance of the NPA assignment. Much like a “Roamer” in wireless, the treatment of calls placed from non- local telephone numbers need special treatment where PSAPs are provisioned with MF- CAMA trunking or where default routing is based on local NPA or NPA-NXX assignments. The current treatment of these numbers is through the use of a pANI or ESQK, and via the same methods as are currently being used for Nomadic VoIP service.
  5. 5. What is a Next Generation 9-1-1 System and why is it needed? Trends in communications mobility and convergence have put the 9-1-1 system at a crossroads. New wireless and VoIP technologies have underscored the limitations of the current 9-1-1 infrastructure. The nation’s 9-1-1 system, based on decades-old technology, cannot handle increasingly mobile communications, and the progressively more popular digital and Internet based communications that enable text, voice, images, and video to become increasingly commonplace in personal communications. Yet our nation’s emergency call-takers are being asked to do one of the most important jobs in our society using communication technology that most businesses have moved far beyond. Simply put, we are relying on increasingly outdated analog technology in an overwhelmingly digital world. There is now a growing consensus on the shortcomings of the present 9-1-1 system and the need for a new, more capable system. Taking advantage of advances in information and communications technologies can mean a more feature rich IP-enabled emergency response system. Most business, government, and public safety communications systems are transitioning to VoIP and IP-based networks because they are more efficient, cost-effective, and enable convergence of voice and date in entirely new ways. These technologies enable major advances in the ability of all users and public safety responders to send or receive critical information to, from and beyond the emergency services network, thus making possible a set of potentially life-saving advances in emergency services. What can members of Congress do to unleash a set of breakthrough emergency advances by accelerating the transition to an IP-Based emergency network? The IP technology needed to transform existing 9-1-1 networks into next- generation networks is already available. Legislation pending in both the House and Senate, and cosponsored by the E911 Caucus co-chairs, not only focuses on accelerating workable solutions for today, but on accelerating the transition to a next generation IP-based emergency network capable of a host of breakthrough emergency enhancements. The bipartisan IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005 – H. R. 2418 and S. 1063 – would build on the FCC’s swift VoIP E911 action by harnessing the power of IP communications to help unleash a host of breakthrough emergency advances. This important legislation follows up on the Enhance 9-1-1 Act of 2004 by requiring the National 9-1-1 Implementation and Coordination Office to develop and report back to Congress on a plan for migrating to a national IP- enabled emergency network. Has anyone begun work to advance a Next Generation 9-1-1 Network?
  6. 6. Building on the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) E9-1-1 Future Path Plan published in 2001, and other activities by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), NENA and IETF representatives initiated development on an IP_based Next Generation 9-1-1 system design in 2003. More recently, the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), the FCC’s NRIC advisory groups, the DOT/NHTSA NG9-1-1 program initiative, and other groups like the Voice on the Net Coalition have published related critiques and action plans. What are the benefits of transitioning to an IP-based emergency network? America’s emergency service leaders are actively working toward the development of a feature rich IP-enabled emergency response system. By migrating to such an IP-based emergency network, 9-1-1 calls might one day include: - Automatic language preferences. By pre-selecting a user’s language preference, an emergency call could be automatically routed to a call taker that speaks the caller’s native language, potentially saving time and saving lives. - Information on a caller’s medical status. If consumers choose to pre- enter vital medical information (e.g., whether an Alzheimer patient lives at the registered location; the heart medicine a subscriber uses), call takers and emergency responders could access critical information that could make the difference between life and death. - Maps and other location specific information. Call takers could access maps of commercial buildings or notes about hazardous on-site chemicals – data that could prove critical to emergency responders. - International emergency number compatibility. New technology standards and architectures could enable global solutions for users who purchase a service in the U.S. but travel internationally or visa versa (where different emergency dialing sequences are required). For example, Britain uses emergency sequences 112 and 999; Japan uses 119 and 110; in Argentina, users dial 101 for an ambulance or police, but 107 for a fire; in the Yukon Province of Canada, users dial three digits plus 3333 for an ambulance, three digits plus 2222 for a fire, and three digits plus 5555 for police. Future IP-based technologies could help route all 911 calls to the proper authorities, regardless of location. - Ensure a high probability that all 9-1-1 calls can be answered. During Katrina, some 36 PSAPs went down and couldn’t answer 9-1-1 calls. An IP enabled emergency network improves the ability for overflow calls to be rerouted, just like a modern call center. For massive emergencies, such overflow could be critical. An IP network also allows nomadic 9-1-1 calltakers to plug in and take calls from a remote location in an emergency. None of these capabilities are yet possible with today’s 9-1-1 network – but all are made possible as PSAPs upgrade to VoIP and IP capabilities, as Congress
  7. 7. adopts legislation to advance a nationwide IP-based emergency network, and as NENA, NRIC, DOT, VON and others work through the key enablers for accelerating IP-based emergency communication. Are there examples of PSAPs who have already made the transition to an IP-enabled local network? Yes, when Elmore County, Alabama needed to upgrade their local PSAP network, they found that they could do more and save more by transition to an IP enabled inter-PSAP network – the first PSAP network in the country to do so. Saw savings of 35% to 45% off the bat. The county of about 60,000 has 5 remote PSAPs. They achieved savings of 35% to 45% by replacing their old switch with a softswitch. They are now using VoIP to connect their 5 PSAPs in the network using VoIP phones and a version of Asterisk VoIP server software called Viper by Positron (see http://www.positron911.com/NOW/0508/theFuture.html). Saw an additional monthly reduction in costs of $3500. They no longer needed to buy their Automatic Location Information (ALI) service from the incumbent providers and solution provider and thus saw further savings of $3500 a month. Gained More Control Over the Network. Now they have 2 more layers of control over their network. They deployed network monitoring software that provides them with more information on the status of their network and have the ability to modify and make changes to the network on the fly. Gained Critical New Emergency Response Capabilities. Elmore Country now has overflow control which enables them to reroute calls to other calltakers at other locations if all calltakers are busy. They also have a PSAP in a suitcase that allows them to plug in as a 9-1-1 calltaker from anywhere there is a broadband connection. They are in the process of acquiring a mobile command center in an RV that will have 5 operator positions for use in an emergency. Are there other examples of PSAPs transitioning to VoIP and IP based communications? • Galveston Texas is now in the process of transitioning their PSAPs to an IP network. Galveston is linking eight public-safety answering points via an IP-backbone infrastructure. The solution integrates TCI’s call control software and an Avaya softswitch to create a flexible and redundant hub-and-spoke architecture that will carry voice and data traffic over a private IP network and let PSAPs redirect calls to other call centers in the event of overflow. Galveston will now have a network where PSAPs can route overflow traffic in an emergency situation to another dispatcher that will immediately be recognized by the system. It’s a flexible, scalable way to network PSAPs together. See: http://www.galco911.org/projects.htm • Denver Metro & Fire is transitioning to an IP based emergency network
  8. 8. All of the above cases are examples of the first of several steps to move toward IP- based E9-1-1 (Next Generation 9-1-1) and an overall emergency communications system, which are building blocks for state and national level 9-1-1 and emergency communications capability. Are there lessons from Hurricane Katrina about the need for an IP-based E9-1-1 emergency network? Yes: During Katrina, some 36 PSAPs went down and couldn’t answer 9-1-1 calls. An IP enabled emergency network allows overflow calls to be rerouted just like a modern call center. For massive emergencies, such overflow could be critical. An IP network also allows nomadic 9-1-1 calltakers to plug in and take calls from a remote location in an emergency. It also could allow people with text messaging devices to contact public safety officials – something that can be even more important as voice networks fail in situations like Katrina. See http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-6026770.html Won’t the transition to na inter-PSAP IP network be costly? Not necessarily. PSAP networks like Elmore and Galveston are making the switch to IP because running a modern IP network can be cheaper than running both an older network and a new IP data network at the same time. For the very same reasons, businesses across the country are switching to a converged IP voice and data network and are often achieving savings of 40 percent. Moving the entire Country to NG emergency communications and NG9-1-1 is expected to ne a monetary challenge, which must be accomplished through new forms of funding. NENA’s NG E9-1-1 Partner Program is addressing this and several other enabling factors. See http://www.nena.org/pages/ContentList.asp?CTID=14 and the NG E9-1-1 2005 Program Report at that site. How would the transition to an IP-enabled emergency network impact the disability community? An IP-Based emergency network could deliver some life-saving advances to the disability community as well. For example, with an IP-enabled emergency network, the deaf could sign to emergency call takers over a VoIP-enabled video connection, and the blind could text message calltakers for help. In fact, when the FCC’s Internet Policy Working Group held its VoIP disability summit in early May 2004, participants noted that VoIP’s ability to integrate voice, video, and data over one network would be especially advantageous for the disabled and particularly in emergencies. At the FCC’s disability summit, T-Mobile described a converged wireless, voice, and data device and its impact on the community. T-Mobile’s Sidekick, a color PDA, offers e-mail, text messaging, Web browsing, and voice. Although considered a phone, around 10 percent of Sidekick’s users are hearing-impaired. Technological innovation and the convergence of voice,
  9. 9. video, and text over a single network can offer the disabled unprecedented new capabilities – especially when the emergency network becomes IP- enabled and is capable of receiving the type of information that VoIP combined with video and data can offer.
  10. 10. video, and text over a single network can offer the disabled unprecedented new capabilities – especially when the emergency network becomes IP- enabled and is capable of receiving the type of information that VoIP combined with video and data can offer.

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