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9 Ways to Ensure E911 Service for Enterprise VoIP Deployments
E911 VoIP Essentials forEnterprise DeploymentsBy: Steve Carter, Sr. Product Manager - XO Communicationsxo.com
Ensure E911 Service for Enterprise VoIP DeploymentsA Guide for Distributed VoIP Environments Contents Introduction 3 The Evolution of E911 3 Legal Requirements for E911 for VoIP Service 4 E911 for Enterprise VoIP 4 Integrating Private Switch/Automatic Location Identification 5 Fixed vs. Nomadic 911 6 Weighing the Options 6 Conclusion 7 About XO® Enterprise SIP 7 About XO Communications 8 About the Author 82 Solutions you want. Support you need.
XO Communications Introduction Deploying VoIP across multiple business locations is a great way to simplify and streamline“An estimated 240 million your distributed network and reduce costs, but how does a business provide E911 effectivelycalls are made to 9-1-1 in the across the enterprise and what are the legal requirements?U.S. each year. Accordingto the FCC, one-third are Today’s Voice over IP-enabled, Internet-based phones offer multiple features for convenience of use that allow callers to use phones from virtually any Internet connection. While thiswireless calls; in many technology has many benefits for end users, it has created many challenges for emergencycommunities, it is one-half or communications call centers that were designed to receive calls from landline phone servicesmore of all 9-1-1 calls.” associated with a fixed address. So, how does a carrier provide E911 services to remote locations; and what are the legal requirements for providing back up and E911? This paper explains E911 service as it relates to distributed Voice over IP phone systems andSource: National Emergency networks. The objective of this paper is to help inform multi-location businesses interested inNumber Association, 9-1-1 migrating to VoIP services about the evolution of E911, including their legal requirements, theStatistics, www.nena.org difference between fixed and nomadic E911 service, and other key considerations; and also provides examples on how to properly configure E911 in the multi-location VoIP environment. The Evolution of E911 Traditional 911 Service routes 911-dialed calls to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), allowing callers to quickly request emergency service from emergency personnel. PSAPs are also known as the emergency call centers responsible for answering calls made to an emergency telephone number (typically 911) for police, fire, rescue, and ambulance services. Enhanced 911 or E911 utilizes additional information in processing a 911 call—the telephone number or Automatic Number Identification (ANI) and the caller’s address or Automatic Location Information (ALI). This information allows a 911 call to efficiently route to the appropriate PSAP and gives the emergency dispatch personnel critical information about the caller’s location. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires caller location capability from all phone companies where the PSAP is able to accept this technology. Traditional telephone, wireless and VoIP service providers are all required to provide E911 where it is available—which is the vast majority of the country. The format and rules associated with providing E911 service are different for each technology and present different challenges. When early adopters of Internet-based phones demanded capabilities similar to wireless, the need for 911 for VoIP entered the picture. In 2005, the FCC began to require interconnected VoIP Service Providers to provide E911 service for their subscribers. With E911, 911 calls made over VoIP networks connect to the existing nationwide network of emergency PSAPs and automatically transmit the caller’s phone number. 3
How to Ensure E911 Service for Enterprise VoIP Deployments Legal Requirements for E911 for VoIP Service The FCC requires that all Interconnected VoIP Services Providers provide 911 services, and deliver all 911 calls to the caller’s local emergency operator. This is not an optional feature of a VoIP provider’s service; it is a requirement. Congress reinforced the 2005 FCC rules in 2008 when it passed the NET 911 Improvement Act. With this Act, Congress gave the FCC additional authority to require VoIP providers to meet these requirements. In many cases, VoIP providers began requiring enterprises to purchase separate, additional voice trunks, like Basic Business Lines (BBLs) or Primary Rate Interface ISDN lines (PRIs), to route E911 calls to the caller’s local emergency operator. Some providers, however, have structured their networks and solutions so that 911 calls can be routed and the proper address information can be collected and delivered from remote sites—eliminating the need for excess voice lines or trunks. Therefore, it is important for enterprises toAn estimated 79% of carefully consider the capabilities of service providers with respect to E911 services.American businesses willbe using VoIP services by E911 for Enterprise VoIP2013, compared to only 42% For enterprises with company-wide, centralized SIP trunking solutions that virtuallypenetration at the end of connect branch locations over an MPLS-based network, there is an increase in2009. complexity of delivering E911 calls to the correct PSAP. For example, an enterprise has its headquarters office and SIP connection in New York. The company also has a branch office in Chicago that connects via enterprise WAN to the New York SIP trunk. ImagineSource: InStat Research, an E911 call from an employee in a life-threatening incident at the Chicago branch office.VoIP Penetration Forecast That call must reach the local Chicago emergency communications system quickly. Themarket alert, February 2, VoIP E911 call, however, routes through the New York office PBX and—if not properly set2010. www.instat.com up—could easily look like a New York call and be misrouted to a New York emergency dispatch call center. The consequences could be devastating, even fatal if the E911 call isn’t routed properly. Careful planning and proper service provisioning helps to ensure phone users in all Chicago Public Service Answering Point (PSAP) Branch #1 Chicago 312-NXX Chicago Street Chicago, IL Other Branches PSTN Carrier Network New York 212-NXX Critical Carrier Responsibilities: Deliver Chicago Branch 911 call from NY to the proper Chicago PSAP. Also to ensure that Chicago PSAP has Address Info for Chicago Branch in their E911 database.4 Solutions you want. Support you need.
XO Communications locations have accurately set up E911 capabilities. To provide E911 service to distributed users on a centralized, shared SIP trunk, the caller’s telephone number must be provisioned so that the E911 service is programmed to ring to the callers assigned local emergency dispatch call center, rather than to a center miles away, across the region or across the country. Because enterprise SIP solutions rely on a Wide Area Network (WAN) service—such as an MPLS IP-VPN, Frame Relay or Private Line service—to provide the local connection to the centralized SIP service, E911 service is provided as long as the enterprise doesn’t lose connectivity for the WAN. As part of an overall enterprise Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan, most enterprises seek to provide an alternate means of contacting emergency services in the event of an interruption at any single point in their network. It is becoming more common for PSAPs to either create redundancy in the form of back-up 911 centers or establish relationships with neighboring PSAPs to share resources in the event of an interruption. Another important feature to look for in a potential enterprise VoIP solution includes Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery protection that automatically provides a failover solution for incoming and outgoing calls in the event a centralized PBX or its connection becomes unavailable. Only a handful of service providers offer failover and backup solutions to keep communications running in the event of such an outage. They vary in areas such as capacity, pricing and billing, and should be evaluated carefully. Integrating Private Switch/Automatic Location Identification Enterprise networks are highly complex. The advanced nature of their network designs demand an E911 structure that directs emergency services not just to a specific location, but also pinpoint exactly where the E911 call originated in the building. In fact, some jurisdictions require buildings and campuses of a certain size to provide more specific Automatic Location Identification (ALI) information to emergency operators. Generally, when 911 is dialed from an individual’s desk, the caller ID delivered to the emergency communications system reads as the company’s main phone number associated with the PBX—not the individual’s direct dial number or phone extension. In a life-or-death situation, the lack of a more specific telephone extension and a more precise location information could prove fatal. To address this problem, Private Switch/Automatic Location Identification (PS/ALI)—which is often available as a separate feature, can be integrated into enterprise SIP solutions. PS/ALI service goes one step further by providing additional location information to the local emergency operators, such as the exact floor or office number. This additional information can significantly reduce response times by helping dispatchers find the exact location of the caller. 5
How to Ensure E911 Service for Enterprise VoIP Deployments Fixed vs. Nomadic 911 In addition to all of the aforementioned solutions for E911 services, it is important for enterprises to understand the distinctions between fixed E911 solutions for physical locations and nomadic VoIP 911 solutions for users who are connecting from an Internet phone, soft phone or adapter into a broadband connection anywhere, that can be moved at any time by the user. Nomadic 911 users require a different solution from a fixed-IP E911 solution because the VoIP service provider normally delivers the service to a stationary location. In short, providers that offer enterprises a nomadic E911 capability enable employees to move their phones and still get the proper address information transmitted to the PSAP, as long as the nomadic VoIP user keeps their information up to date. Updated information must be provided by the user via location update functionality provided by the service provider. Weighing the Options Not all VoIP providers offer a hardened enterprise SIP solution that can accurately identify the location of E911 calls from each office and provide automatic failover solutions without addi- tional costs. It’s important for enterprises considering a migration to a more efficient VoIP infrastructure to fully understand how E911 will be configured by a potential service provider to address multiple office locations. As an example of this level of service, providers such as XO Communications have invested in building connections to all emergency communications systems—or PSAPs—in its national VoIP footprint, and also has built the service provisioning infrastructure to associate the telephone numbers to the correct PSAP without requiring the customer to purchase any other local PSTN lines. XO also provides a state of the art failover solution that utilizes idle capacity at one SIP trunk location to process calls from another location—seamlessly. This feature provides the added confidence that calls can still be completed in the event of an interruption within the network.6 Solutions you want. Support you need.
XO Communications Conclusion Enterprises must carefully consider how a proposed SIP trunking solution will fully address E911 needs. And whatever service the company selects, it’s important for organizations to: 99 Promptly update address information for any locations when they move; and 99 Clearly understand E911 implications and the capabilities and limitations of a chosen provider as it relates to E911 serviceAdvantage of SIP Trunking for the Beyond legal concerns, inefficient provisioning of E911 services that lead toEnterprise purchasing more lines or trunks can defeat the purpose of a converged VoIP solution.Multi-location organizations can enjoymany benefits after migrating to an As a society, U.S. citizens and businesses alike benefit from the fact that individualsenterprise-wide SIP trunking solution, can simply key three digits on their telephone keypads to reach emergencyincluding: services. The FCC and Congress have protected individuals by making it clear that businesses and their communications service providers can’t take away that safety• Reduced operating costs by eliminating multiple carriers and excessive voice lines at net. Yet there are complexities of the language of the law that could create confusion each location and slow an organization’s decision to adopt new SIP trunking technology.• Improved network efficiency by using idle Enterprises should not let the complexity of regulatory rules and requirements bandwidth at one location for other branch keep them from adopting the right technology solution. The right solution for your locations, and by carrying voice and data over a single Wide Area Network business is available, as long as you equip yourself with the right information and• Reduced capital expenditures by sharing a ask some key questions of your service provider. centralized PBX across the enterprise Key questions to ask potential service providers:Note: For more on business benefits, 1. Can E911 be seamlessly integrated into the overall service solution?consult the white paper “SIP for 2. Will additional Plain Old Telecom Services (POTS) at each location be required to ensure sustainedthe Enterprise: Key Advantages & coverage?Benefits”. 3. Will the solution route the calls to the caller’s local emergency responder—rather than the central- ized SIP trunk—accurately and without adding third party solutions? About XO® Enterprise SIP XO Communications has expertise in enterprise networking, particularly with next-generation network architectures, and makes for a powerful partner for your enterprise connectivity needs. The XO® Enterprise SIP solution provides a complete, end-to-end option for organizations with the challenge of interconnecting multiple geographically-dispersed locations. With over nine years’ experience in owning and operating a VoIP-based solution, XO carries over 25 Billion VoIP minutes annually and serves over 25,000 businesses with VoIP services. In addition to providing integrated voice and data services to businesses and enterprises, XO also powers many other telecom providers’ VoIP infrastructure with high volume VoIP Origination and Termination services. 7