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FCC opens Net phone E911 portal

The ongoing saga over 911 service requirements in the Internet phone world now has an official Web presence--albeit with limited offerings at the moment.

On Monday, a task force created by the Federal Communications Commission launched the site, which is aimed at providing consumers, industry and government with the latest information about Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers and 911 service.

Under current FCC rules, VoIP providers have until Nov. 28 to be able to connect their subscribers to the enhanced 911 network, a next-generation system that can pinpoint the caller's geographic location. According to a recent notice, the companies are now expected to stop taking on new customers and marketing the service in areas where they fail to meet the requirements.

Some industry groups have criticized the rules and complained that the FCC has offered limited guidance.

Much of the new Web site is still "under construction," and site placeholders say the group is soliciting suggestions for content. The pages that are up and running act as a portal, linking to information already posted at the FCC's main site.

Among the suggestions the site offers to VoIP users: Be sure that the physical address you've used to sign up for the service is correct and up-to-date, understand any limitations to 911 service, and warn babysitters, children and other visitors as well.

That shouldn't be news to most VoIP subscribers. The FCC rules issued earlier this summer required most VoIP providers to wage a thorough campaign to spread the word about potential limitations.