House Approves 911 VoIP Bill

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The House of Representatives has given final approval to a bill supported by providers of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services that will ease consumer access to 911 emergency services.

The bill, dubbed the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008, was previously approved by the House in November 2007 and this month by the unanimous consent of the Senate. The latter vote sent the bill back to the House for concurrence.

The bill mandates that VoIP users be granted interconnection to incumbents, with VoIP providers gaining access at the same rates, terms and capabilities granted to cellular phone service providers.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association applauded the passage of the bill.

"This bipartisan legislation approved by Congress ensures that all consumers—including the 16 million cable voice customers—can have confidence that their calls to 911 for emergency service will be answered without regard to who their provider is or what technology they use," NCTA officials said in a statement.

“We commend the leadership of Chairman Dingell, Chairman Inouye, Ranking Member Barton, Vice Chairman Stevens, Chairman Markey, Ranking Member Stearns, Senators Nelson and Snowe and Representatives Gordon and Pickering for their leadership in protecting public safety and promoting competition in voice services,” the NCTA continued in its statement.