Is the phone number finally dead?

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Video Killed the Radio Star” is a song first recorded by Woolley & the Camera Club (with Thomas Dolby on keyboards) for his album English Garden, which was a hit in Canada. It was later recorded by the British synthpop/New Wave group The Buggles, released as their debut single on 7 September 1979, on Island Records from their debut album The Age of Plastic. The song topped the music chart in several countries and its music video was the first shown on MTV in the U.S. at 12:01am on 1 August 1981.

Is SIP Going to Kill Dial Tone as we know it?

If you’re an Avaya user, you’ll certainly know @BigMikeH1965, and his fantastic support in the IAUG users group community. Mike is the Network Administrator at the Lenape Regional High School, and spent some time as a paramedic. I like to follow Mike on Twitter, as he seems to have the tendency to tweet “the important stuff”, and leave all of the “drama” for others. In other words, if it was worth a mention from Mike, it’s probably something that you need to read, or at least know about.

This past week Mike sent out a link to an article titled “Is the phone number dead?” By Mark Saldana. Of course this immediately caught my attention because of its implication on E 911.

As many are aware, but for those that aren’t I will repeat it, today’s legacy E 911 network is based on static routing defined by a telephone number to address correlation database. It is this dangerous assumption, and the mobility provided by today’s Enterprise voice networks, that is the biggest challenge for E 911 call handling in Enterprise networks.

If my phone number equals my location, yet I can carry my phone number with me anywhere on the planet, how am I supposed to get my call to the correct 911 center when the primary database key is most likely incorrect?

So, as Mr. Saldana suggests, and I happen to agree with him by the way, if the phone number in fact is dead, then the evolution towards Next Generation 911, is at its critical mass, and must be expedited before we put millions of workers behind a PBX at risk.

Recent numbers by NENA estimate the number of 911 calls in the US to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 270 million annually. Given the statistical data reported by CALNENA, Avaya, and the 911 industry, an estimated 10 to 14% of 911 calls originate from an MLTS/PBX. That works out to somewhere between 27 million and 37 million calls each year. As technology migrates towards this new paradigm in communications, it’s most likely that the first participants will be Enterprise users. The good news is, Enterprise class networks today already use a very similar, and certainly compatible model as compared to the NENA i3 Detailed Functional and Interface Standards Version 2.

Passing calls through the network today relies on telephone numbers and caller ID. Displaying location information to public safety answering points today relies on telephone numbers and caller ID.

NG 911 utilizes PIDF Location Objects provided by the originating device, or network, in the SIP header. Both the network and the PSAP can open these location objects, analyze the data in them, or referenced by them, and then make the appropriate routing decisions or resource allocations.

If I am Mrs. Ramirez, on the south side of Boston, and my primary language preference for communication is Spanish, I can be routed to an appropriate 911 call taker that has the skill sets, fluent Spanish, to answer my request for help. I also have the exact location of where the caller is, and combine that with other detailed information that I have about the community as well as available response units.

I think the reason people are so worried about NG 911 is the fact that they don’t fully understand E 911 today, but understand that next generation 911 will be a significant factor in the future that is directly associated with their data network. “Significant factor” usually means “more training”. “More training”, may mean “more budget”. “More budget”, in today’s market, might just mean, “new employee needed?”.

I often hear questions asked on the discussion lists about a job title that includes “telephony manager”, and if that is something that is a positive or negative on your resume. Although you want to highlight current and new technologies as the value proposition of hiring you, in my opinion, having core telephony skills increases your overall understanding of network design, resiliency, redundancy, and many other good traits that are all still very relevant today.

Change is inevitable. Most of the time, it’s for the good, but may not be so apparent in the initial stages. More and more, I see smart CIOs pushing the envelope as success can only be measured by understanding what the failure point is. Now is when you can take your valuable skills from managing “telecommunications”, and promote yourself as a “unified communications professional”.


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Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted 😉
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

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