Members of the Senate Commerce Committee this week approved a bill designed to make E911 obligations for voice-over-IP (VoIP) providers comparable to those of traditional mobile wireless carriers.

The subject of a committee hearing earlier this month, the bill would accomplish the following: codify the FCC’s order requiring VoIP providers to include E911 service with their offerings at a level similar to commercial wireless carriers; provide VoIP providers and public-safety answering points (PSAP) with the same liability protection afforded to telephony carriers; ensure that VoIP providers have access to the 911 network; and clarify that state and local governments collect 911 fees from VoIP providers.

“When it comes to public safety and services like E911, we must always strive to do better,” Senate Commerce Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said in a statement.

“When lives are on the line, first responders need location information that is as accurate as possible. The IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act would ensure that first responders receive accurate information, which would, without a doubt, save lives.”

With the committee passage, the legislation will move to the Senate floor, where it is expected to pass easily, said Yucel Ors, legislative affairs director for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).

“It’s probably going to [be approved] under unanimous consent,” Ors said. “We don’t see anybody trying to block it now, so hopefully it will go pretty fast.”