For those that live in the United States, you might have heard of E911. First, for those not in the US, 911 is the national emergency response service number. Typically, this is 112, but in the US, we like to be difficult. Now, at this time, there is E911 which goes one step beyond the older system where the telephone number and service address is collected and submitted to the operator. In the case of Cellular technology, this will typically try to pull GPS or Radiolocation information. So, E911 is good, right? It is better than standard 911, but not as good as it could or should be.
POTS is Plain Ordinary Telephone Service. When you plug a telephone into the phone jack on the wall of your home, or apartment, you are likely using a POTS connection. For E911, this is good, and they work together. It would seem like the people who pushed to implement this thought of POTS and said, yes it would work. And with that regards it does.
ISP VOIP Services
If you are using a cable Internet Service, or FiOS, and have “home phone” service, then you are using VOIP. This is not as much as an issue as the phone service is built into the modem, or service line. In that regards, this only becomes an issue if you move, and the company didn’t update your service address.
Cellular services will try to give an approximation based on the distance of cellular towers with relation to the phone. More accurately will be GPS, but this only works if the device has GPS. Most smartphones do, but some basic cellular phones do not.
Now, this is where problems will arise. If you are using a SIP phone service, and some of you might be for cheaper international calls, then the E911 flaws become apparent. You first inform the SIP provider your service address. This is verified, and recorded for when you have to make a 911 call. If your SIP phone never leaves the home, this is OK. However, if your SIP phone goes somewhere else, then the address is no longer valid. Calling 911 will send services to the address noted unless you tell them otherwise. If you are calling 911, you are not likely going to think about telling them the address they see is not where you are at this moment. This can become a significant problem.
The solution is very simple, but would require government intervention to force companies to do things they won’t want to do. First, every physical location must have a static IPv6 address. There are enough addresses to where each person in this world can have more than a billion IPv6 addresses before there has to be concern. I am sure that every residence and business address can have a devoted address for themselves. This IPv6 address will never change, even if another provider is selected. Now, a centralized IPv6 address database can be set up. With modifications to the PSAP software, the address can be looked up based on the IPv6 address that is being transmitted. Now if someone takes their SIP or VOIP phone to another location and need to call 911, it can be done and the address is accurate.
What Needs to Be Done?
I am one of those ones that the infrastructure should belong to the people. Time and Time again, ISPs, Television providers, and cellular providers has failed to make the US the US competitive when it comes to price and features. Cellular services for example is among the most expensive in the world, and out of the industrialized countries, Internet is just as insane. However, when looking at Europe, rates are usually much better for cellular communications, while Asia may provide a Gigabit Internet connection for what an average consumer may pay for the 10s of Megabytes.
If the government performed imminent domaon on the data cables for Internet services, focused on making them competent, and allow ISPs to pay a fee to provide services to consumers, then the Internet system could be hopefully improved and unified without having to worry about pleasing stockholders. In addition, telephone services can be moved to Internet Protocol, therefore making the phone system more reliable and leaner. Maybe one day, we could replace the outdated RJ11, and Coaxial with a national communication standard of RJ45.
Rolling out a national IPv6 static address system throughout every address in the United States will mean that the national government can manage this database, and can provide accurate and more reliable address mechanism for everyone if they need to contact Emergency services.
It saddens me to say this will likely never happen. I do not see the federal government do what needs to be done to make it happen. And the ISP will never do this as it would require effort for less profit on their part. And one may not think of this as a big deal until you call 911, and they send that ambulance to save you from a heart attack or stroke to some other place.