Last month, during a voice-over-IP conference held in Chicago, National Emergency Number Association President Bill McMurray told attendees that NENA's constituency — the nation's public-safety answering points — is eager to start a dialogue with VoIP vendors.

The FCC's recent order that requires Internet-based voice service providers such as Vonage to provide their subscribers with enhanced 911 services that compare to those provided by wireline and wireless carriers is creating an opportunity for VoIP equipment vendors, one that McMurray believes also could benefit the nation's call centers. The thinking is that the technologies developed to meet the FCC's mandate could be leveraged by PSAPs to enable advanced data applications (see story on page 16).

PSAPs might not be on VoIP vendors' collective radar screen right now, but they will be soon. The future for communications worldwide can be summed up as the convergence of voice, video and data over IP-based infrastructures. This holds just as true for the public-safety sector as it does for commercial telecommunications providers. McMurray understands this and is spreading the gospel with evangelical zeal.

One thing VoIP vendors must understand is that there are about 5400 PSAPs scattered nationwide. And nearly all of them would require a significant infrastructure upgrade to enter the bright new IP-centric world envisioned by McMurray. That's a lot of opportunity for vendors, especially when one considers that there still is a healthy amount of homeland-security money up for grabs, which could help mitigate legitimate concerns about whether call centers are in a position to pay for such a migration.

Consequently, when McMurray says the PSAP community is eager to chat with the VoIP community, I wouldn't wait for him to call. I'd pick up the phone.

P.S. Welcome to Jay Jacobsmeyer, who, starting with this edition, is taking over MRT's Tech Speak feature. Jay is a seasoned radio-frequency engineer with a master's degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University and more than 20 years experience in the field. Turn to page 30, and you'll see why I believe MRT and its readers are fortunate that Jay is on the masthead.