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VoIP for the masses?

The Washing Post has a story on how Texas is suing Vonage because someone who failed to activate the 911 feature was unable to make 911 calls from their VoIP line. I thought it was interesting that this was one of the few articles that points out that: “Vonage notifies customers twice during the subscription process that they must register for 911 service, and subscribers are repeatedly notified that they must request emergency service whenever they log into their account” according to Vonage spokeswoman Brooke Schulz.

I found it spelled out clearly on their website the couple of times I’ve looked into Vonage. A google cache of the site (from March 14th when I looked) stated very clearly in bold orange print: “You Must Tell Us the Physical Location of Your Vonage Line for 911 Dialing to Function.” Interestingly enough, about 50% of Vonage customers have not registers their 911 location.

The question is, which is the right system? Automatically registering customer’s shipping location like AT&T’s CallVantage, even if that’s not where the system will be used? Or is it too much to ask of the masses to register the actual location of the service and keep it up to date, like Vonage? My opinion is that Vonage is doing it right – registering a wrong address is probably worse than not having a registration at all. Too often we expect some one else to take care of us, when we ought to be looking out for ourselves whenever possible.

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