Friday, September 23, 2005

Katrina spurs federal action on VoIP

CNET "Hurricane Katrina's thrashing of communications networks has amplified the need for Congress to take action on Net phone policy, senators said Thursday.
At a hearing convened by the Senate Commerce Committee, senators pledged to take steps to ensure that all communications networks, including voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, can connect their customers to the 911 system. One such bill was introduced in May.
'I want to underscore how complete and total the implosion of communications seemed to be,' said Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican who was in the ravaged state during the storm. 'It puts the sort of normal process of rumors floating around...through the stratosphere, because all of a sudden there's no way to get real, accurate information on the ground.'
The 'robust, unique features' of Net phones helped ease the communications logjam when people could find power sources, said Sen. John Sununu, a New Hampshire Republican. According to the Voice on the Net Coalition, which represents VoIP interests, Net phones lines have been used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Red Cross, the Army, hospitals and evacuees at the Houston Astrodome in the storm's aftermath. "

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