VoIP and Emergency 911

by Olivia Tan

Have you ever wondered what exactly is up with VoIP and Emergency 911? This informative report can give you an insight into everything you’ve ever wanted to know about VoIP and Emergency 911.

VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol has gained much popularity today. There are many advantages consumers are discovering to using their broadband connections to handle all of their telecommunication needs. People also prefer integrating their telephony into one simple network. VoIP can handle all components such as voice, data, email, and web communications.

When VoIP first was revealed, it opened the door to many questions. For example, VoIP transmits packets of data, or information, over the Internet, while regular telephone services work by transmitting circuits- or electricity to create a connection between one telephone user and another. An example of this is the old switchboard operators who wearing headsets would frantically try to make the right connection and have the correct talkers communicate with each other.

This old method of using the telephones is called Circuit Switch Networks. Because VoIP utilizes packets of information, it is called Packet Switch.

There have been complications in the way VoIP users or Packet Switch networks connect to the Emergency 911 systems. Back in August 1999, the Wireless Communications and Safety Public Act took effect. This Act enforces that all telephone carriers and services will provide 911 services for all of its customers. Mobile phone carriers were having a hard time with the Wireless Communications and Safety Public Act when their services first were initiated. Currently, all mobile services provide emergency 911 services for all of their customers.

When a person calls 911, their call is routed to Public Safety Answering Point Dispatcher. It is the nature of the Emergency 911 system that when the phone call arrives at the Public Safety Answering Point Dispatcher the caller’s identification will be displayed. This includes the caller’s name (or the one registered for the phone) and address. Mobile phone carriers have now included a global tracking system so that location can be traced to the specific location where the call is being placed.

The wireless form of 911 is known as E911 or Enhanced 911. This includes displaying a cellular phone caller’s location as well as extending it to a surrounding range of 50-300 meters.

This brings us to VoIP and the difficulties that VoIP service providers have when it comes to 911. First, VoIP is not a landline service. It is wireless or used by a router connected to your broadband High Speed Internet connection. This means, that you are not going to be recognized by your physical address, but by your IP address.

The information about VoIP and Emergency 911 presented here will do one of two things: either it will reinforce what you know about VoIP and Emergency 911 or it will teach you something new. Both are good outcomes.

For some who use VoIP services and call 911, there calls will be routed to a Public Safety Answering Point Dispatcher, but when the call arrives, it won’t have any information displayed pertaining to location or user’s information.

There have already been several instances in the news pertaining to VoIP and problems people have had reaching 911 during an emergency. The FCC has issued regulations regarding VoIP and the problem with 911, but unfortunately the problem is not that easy to fix. The very infrastructure of VoIP differs from standard telephone lines; therefore the system of 911 does not work with VoIP as it does with landlines.

The FCC has made the decision that VoIP service providers will have to have all customers sign a “statement or waiver” stating that they understand their 911 services may be disabled or not working according to standard with their VoIP service.

Some VoIP service providers have addressed the issue by instituting enhanced 911 services, the same as for cellular phone users, but there are still issues that remain. For instance, if a caller is on a VoIP through their laptop computer, or in a different location, the enhanced 911, may not be able to effectively track the computer because they are on an IP network.

The safest measure to take, until this is corrected, is to keep a basic landline phone in use, if not only for the sole purpose of making emergency 911 calls on. Also, you can carry your cell phone with you, even if you use VoIP for your calling needs through your laptop, or if you use a VoWiFi phone, just in case you need to call 911.

If you do need to make a 911 phone call from your VoIP, remember to stay calm, then let the dispatcher know your present location immediately. Remember, they won’t have that information in front of them.

You can’t predict when knowing something extra about VoIP and Emergency 911 will come in handy. If you learned anything new about VoIP and Emergency 911 in this article, you should file the article where you can find it again.

Olivia Tan provides tips and review on VoIP service providers. Please visit www.allvoipsolution.com

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