FCC Moves To Protect VoIP From Hurricane Outages

With the hurricane season now upon us – as I write this there have already been four named storms – the FCC has gone live with the expansion, to include VoIP and broadband services, of an information reporting system designed to help track and restore outages to communications services. While the most likely situation is outages due to events such as hurricanes, with the FCC even noting in its formal public notice that “hurricane season 2012 began on June 1st,” the new system will also be there to respond to outages due to terrorism.

The expanded VoIP and broadband inclusion in the program, named the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), went on line about a week ago. “The expansion of DIRS to interconnected VoIP and broadband Internet services recognizes that consumers, businesses, and government agencies increasingly rely on broadband and interconnected VoIP services for everyday and emergency communications needs, including 9-1-1 services,” the FCC says.

Readers of this blog may recall that back in May I wrote about the FCC planning to add VoIP and broadband to DIRS, and that it had set a May 23 deadline for anyone with objections or comments. Apparently nobody objected to including VoIP in a scheme that the agency says “will facilitate the FCC’s efforts to assist communications providers in maintaining and restoring service during times of disaster.”

The FCC’s action represents just another in the growing acceptance of VoIP as a mainstream – and some day it will be THE mainstream – communications methodology in the world today. Indeed ever more governmental agencies are using enterprise VoIP services – including police, fire and other disaster responders. And while the need to get those folk back online as fast as possible in any sort of disaster is obvious, equally true is that all VoIP users will benefit from the more rapid restoration of service envisioned with the help of DIRS.