Geolocation can be a verb or a noun. As a noun geolocation refers to the location of a remote device. As a verb, it refers to the process of detecting a remote device. Geolocation, in both definitions, is important in VoIP.

Geolocation refers to the physical, geographic, location of a remote device. The device in this case is the facility that houses the servers and switches of a VoIP service provider. It is important that VoIP servers be geographically redundant, or “geo-redundant.” Georedundancy is another method of fault-tolerant design. If a server gets overloaded or fails, there is a second (or more) server ready to take over. A related technical term is “replication,” in which the computational task is replicated, either in time or space, many times. So, in the case of VoIP, instead of sending one packet containing a sample of your voice, five copies of the same packet are sent across the network, and to not one but randomly to many VoIP servers across the country.

Geolocation is the mapping of your remote device to your actual location. Also known as “geotagging,” geolocation is already getting both positive and negative buzz as companies like Facebook, Foursquare, Apple, and Google test out geotagging apps. Geolocation is an important function of enhanced 911. A VoIP device, such as a computer or an IP phone, has its own IP address. As we mentioned in Network Address Translation, your device is likely to have the same IP address as your cable modem, with the number “.1” added at the end. It is pretty easy to find a stationary device based on its IP address. But for softphones, mobile VoIP, and remote VoIP logins, new solutions are being developed, and new regulations are being discussed. The National Emergency Number Association has approved an “i3” standard, which takes advantage of the SIP standard to send correct information to emergency responders. The NENA i3 standard is expected to be implemented in the next generation of 911 services.