Ofcom Says VoIP Must Support 999

Real world service... real world demands.

It is perhaps a sign of the times that VoIP providers will now be required to offer 999 services.

The news comes following an investigation by Ofcom which says operators that provide VoIP to landline services (such as Skype, Truphone and many others) must now make this potentially lifesaving additional provision. VoIP to VoIP only services will be exempt.

Interestingly, the decision represents something of a U-turn by Ofcom which had previously discounted the need for such drastic action, a fact it recognised but justified with three reasonable points:

*Since the previous consultation, there has been an increase in VoIP use with 10% of UK households having used VoIP in Q4/06.

*Developments are making VoIP technology “look and feel” like traditional phones (indeed some mobile phones can now make VoIP calls).

*A significant proportion of VoIP consumers were confused about whether they would be able to dial 999, many thinking they could when they could not.

Of course while some VoIP companies may grumble about the acceptance testing and costs involved in qualifying for 999 emergency service access I would argue that if they want to be considered as genuine replacements for the common landline then they’ll have to show they’re capable of matching (and surpassing) it lock, stock and barrel.

Time to play with the big boys…


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