VOIP 911: Weakness in VoIP 911 System Leads to Lawsuit Against Vonage

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The State of Texas has sued VoIP provider Vonage for weaknesses in the VOIP 911 system. Note that the issue is not with Vonage itself, but with how 911 calls are handled (or not) by VoIP systems generally.

The Texas Attorney General has sued Vonage claiming that they use deceptive marketing practices because, the lawsuit claims, Vonage does not make it clear enough when one is signing up for their VOIP services that you have to sign up for 911 services separately.


The lawsuit stems from a Vonage customers Peter and Sosamma John being unable to reach 911 from their VOIP telephone during a break-in, during which they were both shot (but fortunately recovered). The Johns had not signed up for the 911 service when they signed up for their Vonage account.

But according to Vonage, new customers are not only prompted twice during the registration process to sign up for 911 services, but customers who have completed the registeration process without signing up for 911 services are reminded to sign up for 911 services every time they log into their Vonage account.

According to a Vonage spokesperson, VoIP customers must register first before being able to have 911 services because the VoIP provider needs to know to where to direct the emergency 911 call. It isn’t like a landline which is fixed by definition to a specific location, or a cellphone which can be located by what cell it is in. Because VOIP services are provided by IP address, a VOIP provider has no way to know where the VOIP device is located unless the customer tells them.

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So word up, you VOIP users: register for 911 services with your VOIP provider. Do it now.

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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People also searched for VoIP provider sued for 911 failure, vonage era voip vs next gen voip 911

4 thoughts on “VOIP 911: Weakness in VoIP 911 System Leads to Lawsuit Against Vonage

  1. The issue is not whether Vonage makes consumers sign waivers — do you have to do that for your landline or wireless phone service? The issue is that Vonage REFUSES to provide a technical solution or interface that will connect 911 callers to the 911/public safety network. I’ve read the waivers, and to the ordinary consumer, it’s not real clear what they’re giving up. Wireless carriers and landline service providers have to provide 911 connectivity; why shouldn’t VOIP? I say hooray to Texas for having the brass to stand up to Vonage for deceptive business practices and not providing 911 connectivity.

  2. I looked into Vonage as a result of their ads. The sales literature makes it very clear that until you provide 911 data, it will not work. While the situation described is unfortunate, the subscribers must share some of the responsibility.

    I suspect the state filing a lawsuit is getting around the fact that the subscribers signed a waiver that they understood the 911 deal when they set up their phone service.

  3. Got to say, I’d be extremely reluctant to rely on VOIP for Emergency Calls fullstop (especially in light of the recent media articles surrounding VOIP blocking or prioritisation claims).
    Most VOIP in Australia is performed through PC’s with Broadband connection. Of these, cable connections are only available in very small geographic areas, everyone else relying upon phone lines using ADSL etc, so already have a more reliable standard telephone handset connected.
    Those on cable broadband are currently more likely to utilise a mobile phone than VOIP for Emergency Calls.

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