The state of Connecticut is suing Vonage Holding Corp., an Internet phone service provider for misrepresenting its 911 emergency capacity.
The suit was filed after a report that a Connecticut woman dialed 911 using her VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service upon discovering that her infant son had stopped breathing. Instead of being connected immediately to a dispatcher, she was routed to an answering service. After failing to be connected, she rushed her son to the hospital by car.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, adding to similar suits being filed in Texas and Michigan, said the lawsuit alleges Vonage misrepresents its 911 services, failing to fully disclose that 911 calls may take longer to connect or go unanswered.
"The company deceptively leads consumers to believe their emergency access will be as reliable as conventional landlines. Every second wasted routing calls could mean life or death. This lawsuit should sound an alarm: Consumers need and deserve to know whether 911 means real, immediate human help, or an answering machine," Blumenthal said.
Vonage, the largest Internet phone company in the United States, informs its 500,000 customers (in fine print) that they must activate a 911 service.
Vonage spokeswoman Brooke Schulz said, “we're always willing to look at improvements to our disclosures, but the ultimate improvement is access to the 911 network. We really need to focus on the root of the issue."
Deals are in the works with two of the four biggest phone companies to ensure direct routes to 911 services.