ETSI Develops New Solution to Locate VoIP Emergency Calls
Monday, March 19, 2018 | Comments

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) developed a solution to locate VoIP emergency callers in response to the Universal Service Directive 2002/22/EC. The solution is backward compatible with current emergency service center technology. 

Taking into account requirements from the industry to enable the support of emergency services for private IP networks, the specifications published by ETSI in response to EC Mandate 493 (2011) provide a technical reference for enabling the determination and transport of emergency callers’ location information regardless of the voice service provider they use. The provisions in the two documents also support the cases where regulation imposes an aggregation provider interfacing all active voice service providers with network providers and emergency service providers.

"What M493 has done is to extend the location, which already existed before for users connected to a network operator’s services,  also to VoIP users connected to an operator’s access network but using the services of a generic ISP (internet service provider) that has no knowledge of the physical network infrastructure," an ETSI spokeswoman said.

After the definition of the service architecture in ES 203 178 in 2015, TC NTECH completed the work by specifying the protocols to be used at the interfaces in this architecture. ES 203 283 was published at the end of November.

The potential impact on existing emergency service architectures, with the risk of high adaptation costs that a completely new technological approach could have brought, had to be carefully considered to design a viable solution. Some complex aspects were related to, for instance, security and opening of access to databases. Careful technical work helped attain a balanced solution acceptable to all parties involved.

The challenge of these specifications was to conciliate the interests of network operators, which already located emergency callers connected to their IP multimedia system (IMS) networks, with those of service providers that offer VoIP call services using different types of IP platforms. The possibility for the users to benefit from VoIP service providers independently from the location and the regulatory domain poses several challenges for defining a suitable solution that has to comply with traditional implementations of emergency services and legacy public-safety answering points (PSAPs), as the mandate explicitly required.

TC NTECH considered these aspects and worked out a balanced solution. It allows the required opening to new market players with the definition of the needed interfaces between the access network providers, VoIP service providers, emergency service providers and finally, the PSAPs but is still compliant with a classic Third Generation Public Partnership (3GPP) network.

ES 203 283 leverages a number of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)-defined protocols, some of which did not initially fulfill all the requirements identified in the service architecture specification. To fill this gap, TC NTECH proposed, through contributions submitted by some IETF members, updates to HTTP-enabled location delivery protocol (HELD) and session initiation protocol (SIP). A new version of HELD (RFC 7840) now supports the provision, upon request, of routing information along with location information. SIP changes are still in the process of finalization and will allow providing information on the location information source, along with the location information itself in an emergency call.

"In many areas where the emergency services have had an important evolution in the last years, solutions are based on IP services," said an ETSI spokeswoman. "The ETSI solution addresses the different deployment scenarios existing in different European countries and offers a solution compatible with all of them, taking into account also the aspect of sharing location information between providers in the service chain having no direct access to it."

The European Emergency Number Association (EENA) took an active role in the development of the specifications.

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