Monday, November 24, 2008

(serious, not wacky) Mother couldn't reach 911 through Vonage about baby with pills

A South Austin, Texas mother was looking for answers from broadband phone service provider Vonage, after she was unable to make a 911 call in early November after finding her 3-year-old son with an open bottle of vitamins. "I didn't know if he put any in his mouth, didn't know what happened, but just saw all these vitamins on the floor and was very concerned," said Mrs. Pope. She ran to her phone to call for help, "I got a dial tone at first, I called 911 and I just got dead air."

Pope said she tried 911 several more times and still nothing. She was eventually able to call her husband on his cellphone, who then called 911 for her. Emergency responders came to the home and after checking the son, determined he did not swallow any of the pills. "It was definitely a very scary false alarm," said Pope. "Especially knowing that had something else happened that wasn't a false alarm, I wouldn't have any way of contacting anyone."

Pope said she has taken all the steps required to sign up for 911 service as a Vonage customer. Vonage was the subject of a 2005 lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for not making those steps clear enough to its customers. Pope was still working with Vonage technicians to determine why her 911 call would not go through. One technician told her it was a "modem corruption" and worked with her to unplug and restart her computer, modem and router to her phone. Pope said she was able to make a practice 911 call after that but that the rest of her phone service has been erratic since. Another Vonage technician then told her it appeared she had a "bandwidth issue".

Vonage spokesperson Steve Seitz said the company processes 100,000 911 calls nationwide each day. "We obviously need to do the technical background on this," Seitz said, "We can't resolve something if we don't know what all the elements of the problem are." A spokesperson with the Texas Attorney General's office said this is the first complaint they have had about Vonage since 2005. (info from KXAN)

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