This is in stark contrast to Telco’s, who historically provide continuous service through power outages. They have put huge effort into achieving 99.999% uptime, and continuous power is a major consideration.
The other day I called my cellular carrier, T-Mobile. They tell me that I can convert my plan to a “family plan” and add another phone. Further, it’d be ok if I provided the phone myself, perhaps an old GSM phone that I haven’t used in a while. I have an old Razr sitting a drawer somewhere. But I have other plans for the hardware.
I have a huge number of minutes on my plan as I often use my cell for tech support work that can go for hours. Then this week the US cellular market is rocked by new offers of “unlimited” minutes for $99/mo. That’s what I presently pay for my 2500 minute plan. Might have to change that plan soon. This just makes me think that I really should go forward with a plan to add a SIP-GSM gateway to my Astlinux setup.
There remain a great many ITSPs out there that still don’t provide 911 or similar services. Those that target the residential marketplace, like AT&T (argh!), Verizon, Vonage, Broadvoice, Nuvio, etc have this all worked out. However, the myriad other smaller players that target the SMB space often don’t.
In moving to a wholly VOIP situation around here we accepted this reality acknowledging that for us its merely an inconvenience. There are at least two cell phones in the house that fill the gap for 911 and 411. However, cell phones often can’t call 311.
While not critical, 311 access is good to have. This is the number used for non-emergency access to city services. If you see a downed tree on the street, broken water main, or traffic lights out this this the number you call to report the trouble.
This brings me to a question. Can an end user establish their own relationship with the service providers that handle 911/411/311 going around the VOIP provider in the middle?
As it happens the vast majority of E911 service for VOIP providers is handled by one company. Their database and technology are at the heart of how E911 is handled for VOIP users. I contacted them but have yet to receive a rational reply to my email. Their initial response was only to say that they don’t comment on their relationships with their customers. Whatever that means.