Monday, May 30, 2005

VON Europe 2005 Telecom Policy (Part 2) - Emergency Services 

This part deals with a way forward on Access to Emergency Services:

The Internet will be the Universal Service of the future

If the acess to emergency services on the PSTN is too restrictive, complicated or expensive, then there is a possibility that one possible way forward could be along the following lines of argument:
  • Forget the PSTN, it will be dead very soon anyway
  • Provide real-time communication services on the Internet only
  • Finally better access to emergency services will be available on the Internet without any need for providers anyway.
This way-forward will be done without the regulators involved and may cause some potential problem for consumers.

Another more feasible way forward could be ( keeping in mind that access to emergency services IS essential):
  • Providers (new and incumbents), industry and regulators should work together to provide the optimal solutions available at any given time.
  • This solution could be upgraded continuously
Currently the service providers have the primary obligation to provide access to the PSAPs of the emergency service call takers. This obligations will change in future to other entities:
  • Device manufacturers
  • Access provider, enterprises
  • Operating system manufacturers
  • Infrastructure in the environment
  • Infrastructure on the Internet (DNS)
So why load ALL obligations on the service providers, if this has to change in the near future anyway?

But in the meantime for a transitory time VoIP providers are essential in providing access to emergency services, but they should get support to provide this access, to make the access as simple as possible. This is essentially true for global VoIP providers if they need to interwork with national emergency service access systems.
  • A mapping database given a location providing in return an URI to either the responsible PSAP already connected to the Internet or a national specific ESRP (this is basically the open protocol Niklas Zennstrom was talking about)
  • Emergency Service Routing Proxies (ESRPs) providing access to the existing national emergency service infrastructure to route calls properly to PSAPs on the PSTN and providing CLI for call-back.
  • A database providing location information to PSAPs accessible by CLI. The database information is provided static by fixed providers (POTS or VoIP), dynamic by mobile operators or nomadic VoIP providers (via the ESRP)
These three entities could provide a smooth national transition from PSAPs connected to the PSTN to PSAPs connected to IP without involving the globally acting VoIP providers and finally also a transition to the final aim: access to PSAPs directly from any device connected to the Internet without the involvement of a service provider.

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