Somehow I missed this when it came out yesterday–Level3, the US’s largest VoIP wholesaler, is now offering enhanced 911 services to its customers. Since their customers include Speakeasy, Net2phone, and a bunch of other big-name VoIP retailers, that means that 911 service is suddenly a lot easier to provide over VoIP. Also, it means that Level3’s competitors will probably be racing to match them.
The lack of reliable 911 service is generally considered to be residential VoIP’s single largest shortcoming right now; this should go a long ways towards fixing the problem.
Of course, it’s only going to work right when you’re at home, with your registered address. Travellers who take their VoIP adapter with them and then dial 911 will end up talking to their 911 operators at home, which isn’t going to be very useful to them. Until we have a way to send e911 location information as part of the SIP call setup, there won’t be a good way around this. Still, Level3’s new service is a big step forward.