Many consumers have traded in their traditional phone service for Voice over the Internet Protocol service (VoIP). VoIP phone service is provided by any number of Internet service provider companies and serves as an alternative to traditional phone company telephone service. However, many customers are not aware of the limitations VoIP can have on 9-1-1 emergency services.
Consumers should know that some VoIP services do not provide direct access to the 9-1-1 infrastructures, nor do they provide information about the caller’s location or call back phone number. This information is crucial for both you and our telecommunicators in an emergency.
VoIP support for 9-1-1 varies depending on your location, how you set up your account, and even your VoIP provider. Typically, 9-1-1 dialing results in the call going to the non-emergency line in a communications center, which means there is no guarantee that name and address information will be displayed. In addition, VoIP 9-1-1 dialing often directs the call to the consumer’s home location even if they are in a different state or country. This may cause a delay while a dispatcher attempts to connect you with the proper jurisdiction.
It is not our intention to discourage members of the public from purchasing VoIP services. Our concern is for the safety of our public and we urge those that already have VoIP services, or are in the process of obtaining VoIP services, to further educate themselves on VoIP 9-1-1 functions and limitations.
Consumers should be sure to ask questions regarding 9-1-1 and the use of VoIP when deciding on an Internet service provider with VoIP capabilities. For further information on VoIP 9-1-1 issues, click here.