VOIP 911 Calls

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When you call 911 from a traditional telephone, the call in most cases is sent to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) that is responsible for helping people in a particular geographic area or community. PSAP personnel often can automatically identify your location and direct the closest emergency personnel to that location. They also often can automatically identify your telephone number so that they can call you back if you are disconnected.

VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)
Transportation of voice calls across the Internet.

Because VoIP service works differently from traditional phone service, consumers who use it should be aware that VoIP 911 service may also work differently from traditional 911 service. VoIP service providers, in response to FCC action, are making progress in eliminating these differences, but some of the possible differences include:

  • VoIP 911 calls may not connect to the PSAP, or may improperly ring to the administrative line of the PSAP, which may not be staffed after hours, or by trained 911 operators;

  • VoIP 911 calls may correctly connect to the PSAP, but not automatically transmit the user’s phone number and/or location information;

  • VoIP customers may need to provide location or other information to their VoIP providers, and update this information if they change locations, for their VoIP 911 service to function properly;

  • VoIP service may not work during a power outage, or when the Internet connection fails or becomes overloaded.

Check out the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for more information.