Business internet ofcom voip

999 Call Traceability

Had a very interesting discussion with Chris Rowsell, Ofcom Project Director, who clarified what obligations the ISP community were likely to have regarding the traceability of calls to the Emergency Services.

Location information requirements for Internet Telephony Service Providers have been covered in a previous post. Ofcom, together with the emergency services establishment, and for obvious reasons, is trying to understand how real time information regarding the location of a caller might be provided.

The only information available that might help pinpoint a location is the IP address from which the call is being made. There are, however, many problems to be over come, and I’m sorry about the technical nature of some of these points for those who just read this blog for the occasional light entertainment. 

  • The IP address might be behind a NAT
  • There might be multiple Internet Service Providers involved
  • The call might be made from a wifi mesh network
  • Many ITSPs are not ISPs  and cannot easily relate IP addresses to locations.

It is physically possible to imaging the process by which this tracing could be done. Timico, for example, has records of where calls are made to and from. These are kept for billing purposes and contain IP address information. Timico can also link the address of a broadband customer to the IP address of that connection.

The act of hooking up both sets of data is far from being real time and  the cost of developing a system to do so would be huge and disproportional to the value. Certainly it would be unlikely to get past a cost benefit analysis. Interestingly the establishment values a human life at £1.4 million for the purposes of these CBAs.

CR accepted that there was currently no practical way of quickly linking the two sets of data. He did intimate that Ofcom would be initiating a project sometime next year to discuss a way ahead. I suspect that this will be a long and arduous process.