SONUS First With Emergency VoIP System
Sonus Networks, based in Chelmsford, Mass., last week became the first voice over Internet protocols (VoIP) provider to offer calling solutions that identify and allocate resource priority to government agencies and emergency responders in a time of national crisis.
The system complies with National Security/Emergency Preparedness (NS/EP) needs as outlined by the National Communications System, based in Arlington, Va., and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. NCS, which was created during the Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1960s, is there to assist government agencies and emergency service providers through the delivery of NS/EP communications, which require a high probability of completion during periods of network congestion, including crisis or emergency, attack, recovery, and reconstitution. The priority applies just as much to Internet-based and wireless calls as it does to those made over traditional land lines.
To provide this type of service required a software modification that first recognizes a call as requiring "a high probability of completion," which can be done by a call priority system, session initiation resource priority header or by the dialed number, as there are certain numbers that can be recognized immediately as emergency services numbers, says Ken Phelan, principal architect at Sonus.
Then it requires service to be delivered in a congested call environment. "Once you are recognized as a priority call, you override certain restrictions, especially in a time of emergency, and go around call-management policies within the network," Phelan says.
For example, the system will reroute emergency calls to an office-wide call queuing module when a particular channel is full. Other calls would just get dumped in that case.
"It's giving service to the emergency caller that is not available to the general public to make sure that a call goes through," says Phelan.
To develop its new system, Sonus worked with the NCS and its integration contractor, Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif. That work included extensive testing at the company's labs in Richardson, Texas.
"In the past five years especially, we've seen how critical it is to be able to communicate effectively in crisis situations," John Graves, program director for the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service and Wireless Priority Service at NCS, said in a statement. "Sonus is a recognized leader in the IP voice world and their new NS/EP feature offering will help ensure that IP networks meet the emergency communications requirements for high probability of completion."