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911 Over VoIP

Posted by Natalie DeCario on February 18, 2014 at 11:31 AM
Natalie DeCario

911 Over VoIPToday we're sharing a post written by Cameron Nutter, one of our Technical Support Representatives. Cameron wanted to stress the importance of E911 features that are provided by VoIP service providers. Take it away Cameron!

When considering which VoIP provider to sign up with, there are many factors that go into your important decision. Cost, customer service, and call quality are many things that are sure to be at the top of your check list. But what about E911? One of the most important features of any telephone service is the ability to call 911. An emergency is something that can occur at any time and it is very important to have the proper precautions in place. Before signing on with a VoIP provider, it is essential that you understand their E911 service and how exactly it works. 911 over VoIP, for the most part, is very similar to 911 over PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network lines), but with a few key differences. A typical PSTN telephone number is associated with a fixed address. With VoIP, and the portability that it brings, a telephone number can be used from practically anywhere in the country that has access to the internet. Keeping address information for your DIDs accurate and up to date is an absolute must. Many providers (such as VoIP Innovations) offer test services that will allow you to verify that your E911 information has been properly uploaded and is working as intended.

As one of the fastest growing technologies in the world, the FCC has issued requirements to make sure that 911 over VoIP is up to the challenge of delivering what is arguably the most important phone call that you can make. Another important item to note is that at this time, the FCC only requires VoIP providers that are fully interconnected (VoIP services that use the PSTN network) to provide access to emergency services. The FCC has also issued several helpful tips about 911 over VoIP for customers who are thinking about subscribing to a VoIP service.

  • Provide your accurate physical address to your interconnected VoIP service provider to ensure that emergency services can quickly be dispatched to your location.
  • Be familiar with your VoIP service provider’s procedures for updating your address, and promptly update address information in the event of a change.
  • Have a clear understanding of any limitations of your 911 service.
  • Inform children, babysitters and visitors about your VoIP service and its 911 limitations, if any.
  • If your power is out or your Internet connection is down, be aware that your VoIP service may not work. Consider installing a backup power supply, maintaining a traditional phone line or having a wireless phone as a backup.
  • If you have questions about whether or not the phone service you are receiving is an interconnected VoIP service, contact your service provider for further information.
  • PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points) currently lack the technical capability to receive texts, photos and video.

If you are unable access emergency services over your VoIP provider’s network, the FCC encourages you to file an online complaint form, which can be done free of charge on their website at https://www.fcc.gov/complaints. Safety precautions are not something that should be taken for granted. Remember the tips in this article, it might save your life one day!

Tags: E911, VoIP

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