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November 11, 2005

Learning From Katrina (comment)

Any time that you’re writing about telephony, it’s good to listen to Aswath.  He added an amplifying comment to my post which contained an open letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin in which I suggested that landline phone companies be required to provide voice mail and/or call forwarding to disaster victims whose landline phones are unusable.

I’m going to quote the whole comment below because not everyone gets to see comments.  He makes the good point (very politely) that I may sound like I’m trying to push an IP solution.  Not so but I could have been more clear about that.  I just want to solve the problem of evacuated people being impossible to locate because their landlines are unusable.  Whatever technology is used to solve the problem is fine.

He also makes the sensible suggestion that an emergency declaration by some level of government be the trigger for this requirement.  I think an emergency declaration should be ONE trigger but that any time any line is down for more than twelve hours (or some other short time), there is no reason why a requirement like this shouldn’t immediately come into effect.  In an evacuation, of course, the lines may be working but not accessible.  That’s when a government declaration would be very helpful.

Aswath also has some choice (but polite) words for SBC CEO Whitacre who thinks he owns the DSL line you are paying him for.  I posted on that here.

I’ve added Aswath to the Fractals of Change blogroll – way overdue.

Here he is in his own words:

I would like to add my own amplifying comments and observations:

1. The spirit behind this proposal is social benefit and not to position IP Communications industry in an advantageous position (in case, the original proposal by Stuart may be misconstrued as such because it used VoIP technology as the delivery mechanism).
2. During emergency conditions, PSTN does exceptional routing as evidenced by “call gapping” technique used during focus overload conditions.
3. This along with the technology used for Local Number Portability can be used to temporarily port a number to any other number in any point within the national boundary. So, a service provider in an affected area can partner with one or more other service providers to temporarily host the affected customer(s).
4. This is akin to airlines accommodating dislocated passengers from another airline. Just like airlines have a settlement mechanism, the service providers can devise their own plan.
5. A policy decision (like declaration of emergency by the appropriate government agencies) could be the trigger for this policy to become effective.
6. These were originally proposed at http://www.mocaedu.com/mt/archives/000185.html

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