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Regulatory Issues: Emergency Calling. Henning Schulzrinne Dept. of Computer Science Columbia University. The Big Picture. Future regulatory network architecture regulatory “interfaces” avoid “telecommunication” vs. “information services” Affects everything: network neutrality

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Regulatory issues emergency calling

Regulatory Issues: Emergency Calling

Henning Schulzrinne

Dept. of Computer Science

Columbia University

The big picture
The Big Picture

  • Future regulatory network architecture

    • regulatory “interfaces”

    • avoid “telecommunication” vs. “information services”

  • Affects everything:

    • network neutrality

    • emergency calling

    • NGN discussions

Yahoo iTunes Google MSN mySpace Skype eBay

services & applications


OS vendors







consumer ISP


network access

(fiber, copper, wireless)

natural monopoly or oligopoly

geographic range


consumer ISP

Components of emergency calling
Components of emergency calling



end-to-end IP



Contact well-known number or identifier





dial 112, 911

 urn:service:sos

Route call to location-appropriate PSAP





(service,location)  URL

Deliver precise location to call taker to dispatch emergency help

phone number  location

(ALI lookup)

in-band  key  location


The core emergency calling problem
The core emergency calling problem

Voice Service Provider (VSP)

sees emergency call

but does not know caller location

ISP/IAP knows user location

but does not handle call

Ua recognition ua resolution
UA recognition & UA resolution

DHCP (w/loc)


GPS (outdoors)


location  URL


INVITE sip:[email protected]

To: urn:service:sos


INVITE sip:[email protected]

To: urn:service:sos


Lump architecture
LUMP architecture


tree guide




broadcast (gossip)

T1: .us

T2: .de






313 Westview

Leonia, NJ US





Leonia, NJ  sip:[email protected]

Regulatory issue 1 location access
Regulatory issue 1: location access

  • Location information is necessary for emergency call routing

  • Consumer access to location information

    • DSL and cable provider have best knowledge of customer location

      • all other methods are much more expensive, have lower resolution or work only in densely populated areas (e.g., 802.11 triangulation)

    • But consumer may use non-ILEC/MSO voice provider

      • visitors may bring their own devices

      • 802.11 access to neighbor’s modem in emergency

    • Non-discrimination against

Regulatory issue 2 msag ali data
Regulatory issue 2: MSAG & ALI data

  • MSAG = master-street address guide

    • contains all street addresses and their ESNs

    • usually maintained by PSAP and local authorities

  • ALI = mapping of phone numbers to locations

    • needed if PSTN phones are part of the all-IP solution

  • Sometimes held or managed by ILEC or database vendors

    • possibly unclear data ownership

    • need open access by ISPs and VSPs

    • for visitors, VSP may not be in same country

Regulatory issue 3 911 funding
Regulatory issue 3: 911 funding

  • Only US (AFAIK) uses phone tax to fund parts of PSAP operation

    • but not everywhere in the US

    • rates vary widely and non-local collection difficult

    • money often becomes part of general fund or funds police cruisers

    • should tax on water be used to fund the fire department?

  • Old model is a “family tax”

    • each line pays

    • each family member with a cell phone pays

    •  regressive

  • Old model no longer works for IP communications

    •  no longer works if people switch to multiple providers, non-local operators

    • register phone in non-tax state  enforcement mechanism for $12/year?

911 funding goals and requirements
911 funding: goals and requirements

  • Encourage availability of 9-1-1 on as many devices as possible

    • multiple devices per person

    • intermittently-used devices (car, home entertainment systems)

    • corporate end users

  • Sustainable funding model

  • Limit incentives for bypass

    • e.g., by registering service in no-fee areas or using non-US VSP (e.g., Skype)

  • Avoid distortion of telecom competition

    • e.g., by only making 9-1-1 available to some providers

  • Low cost to collect and administer

    • including compliance

  • Fees accrue to area where payer is located

    • even if billing address is somewhere else

  • Minimize opportunities for tax “repurposing”

    • i.e., “9-1-1” fee becomes part of general revenue

  • Desirable: tax fairness

    • income-based rather than head tax

911 funding possibilities
911 funding: possibilities

  • Per-household fee

    • e.g., similar to vehicle taxes

    • could be collected by ISP or wireless provider

    • show proof of payment to service provider

    • somewhat tedious for user

  • General revenue (including sales tax)

    • public safety is a core government function

    • emergency calling is a core component of public safety

      • not that many call boxes left

  • Local tax revenue

    • in some cases, only about $12/household/year, i.e., 0.5% of typical NJ property taxes 

  • Homeowner’s insurance surtax

    • clearly reflects residence of payer

911 funding problems
911 funding: problems

  • Don’t have good estimate for current income stream

    • wireless & wireline

    • local taxes

  • Don’t have good estimates of capex and opex for running 9-1-1 system

  • Unclear how new technical structures will change balance of local vs. regional infrastructure

    • e.g., state-wide data sharing or call routing

Regulatory issue 4 transition
Regulatory issue 4: transition

  • conservative: wait until the last analog phone is disconnected

    • in 2050?

  • no-offense: run two systems in parallel

    • another “trunk” (IP) into the PSAP PBX

    • possible, but requires integration for GIS

    • may limit functionality

    • doesn’t solve PSAP reliability and situational awareness problems

  • forward-looking: convert to all IP-PSAPs ASAP

    • convert CAMA trunks from selective router via gateway

    • simplifies Phase II transition (& possibly cheaper)

    • allows better redundancy and better support for deaf callers


  • Technical issues for NG911 are solvable, but require regulatory assistance:

    • right to location

    • right to MSAG and ALI data

    • right funding model

    • encourage early transition

  • Slides at or