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Vonage Must Sign up N.C. Customers for 911 Service

Posted December 14, 2006
Updated December 15, 2006

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— An agreement between the Vonage Internet phone company and the attorneys general of six states requires the company to sign up all new North Carolina customers for 911 service and to transmit customers' physical addresses to emergency responders, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Thursday.

The settlement, which grew out of an investigation of complaints about the 911 service, also requires Vonage to have all new customers who sign up online check a box that says they understand the limitations of 911 service when they use Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones instead of conventional phone-company service.

Because VOIP phones depend on electrical power and Internet connections, VOIP users could be unable to call for help if they lose power or their broadband connections.

"Consumers need to know about problems that could slow down emergency response time," Cooper said in announcing the settlement.

The states claimed that previously, some Vonage customers did not know they had to activate 911 service separately. The attorneys general also said that sometimes 911 callers reached Vonage corporate numbers or recordings.

Under the agreement, Cooper said, Vonage also has to tell customers that they need to let the company know whenever they move so that it can correct their physical addresses for 911 service.

The settlement includes North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and Texas. Vonage will pay a total of $500,000 to cover the six states' costs for the inquiry.

In a statement on its Web site Thursday, Vonage America Inc. said that 93 percent of its subscriber lines nationally now have Enhanced 911 service.

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