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911 problems with VoIP Calls

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The uptake of VoIP in small communities is going to be a bit of problem because of E911 issues. Even though the industry is working hard to overcome these issues, it is a nagging issue for first responders. Case in point, Northland county in Minnesota.

Few people in the Northland are ditching their home phones yet, but the lure of dirt-cheap or free long-distance calling could turn a technologically challenging issue into a life-and-death situation. Here’s the problem: Emergency calls made using new Internet telephone services ring in through a nonemergency line to the St. Louis County 911 center. Lt. Kevin Kivisto, who oversees the county’s 911 emergency operations, said Internet emergency calls usually are more difficult to handle than land-line and cell-phone calls because the 911 operator must ask the identity and location of the caller. In a normal 911 call, that information automatically appears on a screen when the operator answers the call. If you can’t speak into the phone, emergency responders still know where to find you. “They are going to get answered, but they’re not going to get answered first,” Kivisto said.

7 Responses to “911 problems with VoIP Calls”

  1. Michael Smith

    Reason why I believe the 911 issue is not really a big deal with VOIP service is this.
    Quite simple, all a person who has VOIP service needs to do about 911 is just simply call with your lan line phone before you drop them the 911 number and then ask them what is their your local 7 digit phone number for 911 and they will tell you, then just put that number in your phone memory and call it your 911 number or emergency number and that solves that problem just like that. In fact you only push one button for accessing your 911 number since it is now a speed dial number.

    May be you can pass this simple solution to those who have issues with 911 calling on the VOIP services. I believe this will work with most VOIP services even the ones that don’t offer a 911 service.

    Have a great day!

  2. "Junie Bones"

    –=WHASSUP WITH 911 FROM CELLPHONES!–=I was on the freeway around midnight when some idiot pulls up besides me. He threw ojects at my car and began slowing down, swerving in and out of the lanes causing my car to slow down and swerve as well. I called “911” from two cellphones and got through to a recording indicating all operators were busy. 15 minutes has passed, and one of the phones finally got through to an operator. When I did get through, the operator was extremely RUDE telling me to get away from that vehicle and what the problem was. I was SO FURIOUS!I had to put up with this IDIOT messin’ with me and at the same time, waiting on TWO CELLPHONES that DID NOT CONNECT ME TO 911 right away! WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE CELLPHONES AND 911??!?!?!?

  3. Jesse Kopelman

    E911 is going to be a diffrentiator between free and paid VOIP service. It is such a pain to negotiate with the PSAPs (they have to agree to let you send them the location data and some have proprietary formats they want it in) that you have to charge for it.

  4. FYI – I have recently started using Lingo; they request 911 information (address etc.) that is transmitted to the first responders when you make a phone call. I expect that most VoIP operators will offer something similar. While we’ve gotten rid of our landline, we still have cell phones as a backup in case the broadband is down or there’s a power failure.

  5. What’s all the broohaha about 911. Call 911 from you cellphone in California and you want the local police, and you have to go through the Highway patrol emergency operator, which can take minutes, not seconds.

    I think the FUD about 911 is overhyped and the alternative routes to reach the emergency operator are likely faster than a cell phone, but not yet like straight PSTN 911.