Friday, April 8, 2005
Does your Internet phone service offer E911?
What is convenient and easy on the pocket for the consumer may not be best for reliable 911 response services, according to Mike Taplin, chief dispatcher for the Carlisle Police and manager of the public safety communications department at the Carlisle Police station. Last week, the Statewide Emergency Tele-communications Board (SETB) issued an advisory that persons making telephone calls over the Internet, relying on the so-called Voice over the Internet Protocol (VoIP), may not have access to Enhanced 911, the system that provides the address and number of an emergency caller. This information has saved the life of one Carlisle resident who recently dialed 911 and lost consciousness before completing the call.
VoIP is attractive because making long distance and other calls over the internet saves money and provides portability. The technology is regulated at the federal level and so is not subject to state Enhanced 911 regulations. The FCC is currently working on requirements that may include 911 access and some providers address the problem, e.g., they have routed 911 calls differently while others provide no 911 access.
Suggestions for VoIP users
Persons considering a subscription to a VoIP service need to remember the following points suggested by SETB:
• VoIP providers are currently not required to provide 911 services.
• Most VoIP services do not support traditional 911 or E911 access to emergency services.
• The VoIP providers who do offer 911 servicess may only have the ability to route a 911 call to a regular ten-digit telephone number and the call taker will not receive any telephone number or local information.
• If a VoiP provider claims to offer 911 service, ask how the 911 calls are routed to the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) and what information the PSAP will receive with your call.
• If you relocate your VoIP service phone on a temporary basis, such as taking your equipment with you when you go to a vacation home, you may need to register your current location with your VoIP provider or use a different telephone to dial 911 from your new location.
• VoIP will not work during power outages or network outages
Residents seeking additional information may contact SETB at 781-944-9113.
© 2005 The