Jeff Pulver Comments on VoIP Presence in Emergency Situations
Posted on 16-Sep-2005 10:24
Filed under: News
It seems not one of the mainstream landline and operators, not even the FCC, seemed to acknoledge the fact that for some time VoIP calls were one of the main telecommunications channels in the Hurricane Katrina affected areas. Jeff Pulver, Chairman of pulvermedia, commented about the opening meeting at BellSouth's Emergency Call Center.
"The FCC moved today's Open Meeting to a BellSouth Emergency Call Center in Atlanta. At this meeting, the FCC heard presentations from various industry representatives concerning their role in Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. The witness list included a variety of business and government officials from the likes of BellSouth, ITC^DeltaCom, Iridium, WWL 870-AM New Orleans, Entercom, Clear Channel, Belo Corp., Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc., and CTIA - The Wireless Association.
"This seems like a pretty broad cross-section of the communications industry. There was however, no one representing the Internet or IP-based communications providers.
"I had hoped that one insight government might have gained from Hurricane Katrina is the value of promoting alternate modes of communications via IP and the Internet, and not compel all communications services to look alike and abide by identical standards to promote such social goods as emergency response.
"It wasn't just the VoIP service that helped bridge the communications divide during Hurricane Katrina. Frankly, text messaging, email, Web-obtained information, video blogs and other streaming media, and other IP-based applications were instrumental in keeping people connected and informed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. These applications only hint at what is possible through more ubiquitous, robust usage of the Internet. All these applications have been slighted today by the FCC's focus on carriers and traditional modes of communication.
"Most notably, as I mentioned a few days ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Mayor of New Orleans was able to receive a call from President Bush on August 31, because a New Orleans city employee was able to establish communications via his Vonage service by connecting his laptop to an available Internet connection, while other communications services were down. The scary question remains: What would have happened had the FCC not extended its E911 deadline for VoIP? Would Vonage have had to disconnect the city employee's Vonage service if the employee failed to acknowledge by August 29, that he was aware of the emergency response limitations of his Vonage service? If the hurricane had occurred three months from now, would the city employee have been unable to utilize the nomadic capability of his Vonage service so that it would have been unusable at the remote location where he found broadband access?
"Now, once again, the VoIP industry has been excluded from the dialogue. As a result, I fear that the public might miss out on the full story and may never understand the positive role that IP technology could play going forward in times of public catastrophe."