Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) also called Internet, digital, broadband or cable phone service is a rapidly growing alternative to traditional phone service. Its popularity is fueled primarily by low prices, new features and the consumer’s ability to choose a phone number from nearly anywhere in the country (and sometimes, other countries). Many industry experts anticipate VoIP’s growth will outpace the growth seen by the wireless industry in the last decade.
VoIP may look and appear to work like a traditional phone, but it connects to the internet; not a telephone line. There are several critical factors to consider regarding the impact of this service on your ability to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. While VoIP is an attractive option, it is important for consumers to understand the potential limitations the technology has with respect to accessing 9-1-1.
Check your service provider’s website for emergency calling features. Some VoIP service providers can’t access a 9-1-1 center directly, and the call must be answered by a representative of the VoIP service provider, and then transferred to a non-emergency line at the 9-1-1 center. This can slow down the response to your emergency. Check your service provider’s web site for emergency calling features.
When calling 9-1-1, give your location, and call back number.
Call back if you get disconnected.
If the power is out, your VoIP service may be out also. Consider purchasing a backup power supply. Even with a backup power supply, your internet provider may be without power.
If you travel with your VoIP adapter, your call may not reach the correct 9-1-1 center. Call from another phone.
Be sure to keep your registered location current with your VoIP provider.
Inform children, babysitters, and visitors about your VoIP service.
Post your address and call back phone number near your phone.
It is a good idea to know what police, fire or sheriff’s department is responsible for your 9-1-1 call and have their phone number on hand to provide to the call taker.
Consider keeping a land line phone for accessing 9-1-1 emergency services.
Burglar alarms, fax machines, satellite TV, and DVRs often rely on analog modems. Check with your VoIP provider to determine if their service supports analog modems.