Time Warner Goes Extra Mile on E911

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Time Warner Cable is taking extra steps to satisfy federal regulators concerned that millions of voice-over-Internet-protocol customers are unaware that emergency 911 service will eventually crash during a power failure.

Time Warner told the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday that the company believed it had already complied with FCC rules regarding subscriber notification of potential 911 malfunctions.

But “out of an abundance of caution,” the operator said in a five-page letter that in the weeks ahead, it would remind customers anew about E911 issues they were told about and were acknowledged at the point of sale or installation.

Among other things, Time Warner said it would mail an E911 advisory to all 640,000 VoIP subscribers and include FCC-mandated warning stickers in the parcel.

The MSO -- which has the most VoIP subs in the cable industry -- also said it had launched email and telephone campaign to distribute E911 notifications and collect acknowledgements.

Time Warner, Comcast Corp., Cox Communications, and Cablevision Systems Corp. are under pressure from the FCC to have 100% of VoIP subscribers aware about potential E911 shortcomings.

In a dramatic move late in July that caught cable by surprise, the FCC ordered the Aug. 30 disconnection of any cable VoIP customers if the companies can’t document that those customers have acknowledged the E911 warnings. Many in the cable industry upset with FCC's disconnection requirement, calling it medicine worse than the disease.

While Time Warner told the FCC it would go the extra mile to notify customers, the MSO said that routine company policies since its VoIP rollout began two years ago should be sufficient to meet FCC requirements.

“In light of these consents, [TWC] does not believe that there is cause to take further action, such as disconnecting service, with respect to any of its Digital Phone subscribers,” TWC said.

In other comments, Cablevision indicated that it had written acknowledgement from 98% of its VoIP subs and told the FCC it was taking additional measures to hit 100%. Unlike Time Warner, Cablevision did not discuss potential disconnection policies. The MSO has at least 400,000 VoIP customers.

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