back to article VoIP order to allow 999 calls and give caller location

Providers of internet telephony must now allow emergency 999 calls over their networks or face the risk of enforcement action, regulator Ofcom has said. Caller location information must also be provided where technically feasible. The new rule for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers came into force on Monday. It …


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  1. MattW

    Not according to Skype.....

    Terms of Service:


    1.1 No Emergency Calls: More important than anything: please remember that Skype does not support any emergency calls to any type of hospitals, law enforcement agencies, medical care unit or any type of emergency services of any kind. Skype is not a traditional telephone service or a replacement for Your primary telephone service. There are important differences between traditional telephone services and the Products. You need to make additional arrangements in order to access emergency services. It is Your responsibility to purchase, separately from the Products, traditional wireless or fixed line telephone services that offer access to emergency services. If, with Your permission, another user uses Your User Account or the Business Control Panel, it is Your responsibility to inform that user that it is not possible to support or carry emergency calls using the Products.

  2. Tom

    Does than mean me? Or my ISP or the services?

    I use internet telphony - but I dont use a 'provider' - just the internet.

    I wont be able to phone 999 unless the services provide a permanent IP address for me to dial in on.

    Does this mean my ISP will have to stop me using VOIP as they provide me with the internet?

    Is this the first step in taking control of the internet?

  3. James Le Cuirot


    Does anyone know if sipgate have added this yet? They'll no doubt want to stay on the right side of the law but their website hasn't been updated to say that it works now.

  4. Neil Davies

    Sorry - can you repeat that?

    One of the most interesting changes in the general regulations that has occurred for VoIP is that the requirement that the call quality be 'fit for purpose' has been dropped. Your VoIP 999 call only has to be connected, they don't have to hear you!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    poor excuses not to.

    The VON group suggesting that forcing regulation like this on VoIP will cause so much problems for the market, absolute rubbish.

    Internet companies have generally had it easy on regulation compared to bricks and mortar based industries.

    Regulations affect all VoIP people the same so no-one has a market advantage from this. If anything this will drive MORE innovation and competition as they actually have to provide something to a standard instead of any old rubbish they like with total immunity EULAs.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course they should make emergency calls

    Looong ago I worked for a very large telco where of course the prospect of IP telephony was given a lot of thought. Typically the discussion would go something like this:

    techie: ....., so as you can see voice-over-IP is now technially feasible, ....

    his boss: that's great, but before we can deploy it it needs to comply with all the following: it needs to continue to function for 24 hours after the mains power goes, it needs to "just work" when the user dials 911, it needs to have six-nines reliability.....

    To achieve this, a box the size of a VCR was needed to contain the backup batteries. [Yes, this was so long ago that a VCR was always used as the comparison.] A lot of work was done to get the power requirements down.

    Then people like Skype came along and just said "nah" to all the regulatory requirements. And they seemed to get away with it because of course customers don't really care about things like emergency calls and reliability when they make their purchasing decisions.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just more regulation nonsense. Not around when 999 first came in on the phones, but I would have thought it ridiculous back then as well.

    If people want police contact by VOIP then they should have to pay for it, not burden everyone else.

  8. Mr. Wurst

    the poor child excuse

    uh-uh.. the poor child died cos his parents -like anyone during emergencies- turned the PC on, logged in, checked for new torrent downloads and ran skype to call 112 for an ambulance, but they didn't knew where they live and the ambulance was sent to the wrong place.. aha, happens all the time

  9. Martin Silver badge

    the poor child excuse

    They weren't using skype they were using a regular phone supplied by the cable company. It may have been using VOIP inside the companies network, but so does BT's system X.

    The problem was that the phone company hadn't dealt with their change of address properly - it was sending the bills to the new address but had the old one on file. This would have happened if they were using Voip/ATM/carrier pigeon.

    Apart from obviously being a way for the phone companies to lock out competition - how is this suppsoed to work? Suppose I install SIP at home to call into my office, do I suddenly need to provide 999 services to myself.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Good idea.

    But how do they propose to implement it? They could easily provide a rough location based on IP address but that's not much good in an emergency. But if it's just a matter of having the user enter a location they set the software up that shouldn't be too big a problem.

  11. Neoc
    Thumb Down

    Stupid comment from the VON

    Bottom line: you wanna connect to the PSTN, you obey the PSTN regulations.

    When it was simply PC-to-PC, I didn't have a problem with all this "cowboy" approach to the VoIP network - these companies were playing amongst themselves. The moment the VoIP companies started connecting calls to landlines (including emergency numbers by default) they should have been brought to standard *immediately*.

    Can you imagine the chaos if (for example) any two-bit company could produce a piece of electrical hardware, sell it to the general public and then turn around and say "yeah, so it trips the mains. And possibly the local transformer. Not my problem - my responsibilities stop at the wall-plug."

  12. Terry Crisp


    Hate to point this out to everyone slamming the concept, but as a Vonage customer I can tell you that they are already providing this service (albeit on the European 112 number).

    And yes, I am aware that it's opt-in, but really it'd have to be in any situation where the interfacing equipment is by any means portable.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how do you implement it

    If the IP network changes. example you go from net work to the box stops working till you enter a new address on line .

    if the box is off line for more than 90 minutes you have to call or enter a new address on line .

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    My VOIP line here in Australia allows calls to emergency services (including providing a fixed address).

    However it's nothing to do with IP addresses - basically I give the VOIP provider an address and it's up to me to make sure the address that the VOIP provider has for my account is kept up to date. When I call emergency services via the VOIP line, they provide the address I gave them.

    If I don't keep it up to date and emergency services go to the wrong address, that's my fault (and could cost me dearly - apart from the fact that either me or mine could die, I'd als get a nice bill from the emergency services).

    Obviously this doesn't work if I use the VOIP on a mobile phone, but then my provider does not guarantee it to work in this configuration.

    So obviously there is no reason why VOIP providers can't give an address to emergency services for VOIP services that are "primarily fixed". It's simply a case of shifting the responsibility for the accuracy of the address onto the VOIP subscriber.

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