Know Your E911 Before Emergencies Happen

No one wants to make a 911 call, but if an emergency does occur, users can feel safe with VoIP E911.  

E911 stands for “Enhanced 911”, which is a service for making 911 calls over an Internet connection instead of over a standard wireline or cellular tower routing system.  

When a 911 call is made from a traditional wire landline, 911 operators are able to trace the call to the physical location from which the call originates. i.e. your home or office.  

When a 911 call is made from a cell phone, the cellular towers create a triangular mapping system to find the location of the caller.  VoIP calls work a little differently from both of these technologies.

E911 Standards for VoIP Providers

Since 2005 all VoIP providers have had standard E911 capabilities included in all VoIP plans. So, no matter which VoIP service you chose, you can be confident that you will have a reliable 911 service at all times. 

Because VoIP E911 is not quite the same as regular 911 service with wireline providers, 911 operators cannot automatically trace an E911 number to the physical location from which the call originated as they can with traditional 911 services.  However, this doesn’t mean VoIP E911 is unsafe. Many people don’t really understand the actual limitations of VoIP E911 and so have an unnecessary amount of anxiety about it. 

Because VoIP calls are transferred through Internet protocol, they aren’t traceable to physical locations. So, when a customer gets VoIP service, they need to register their VoIP phone number with their home or office address. This way, if someone makes a 911 call with a VoIP number, the 911 operator will be able to see what physical address the number is connected to.

Traceability vs Registering Your Location

VoIP providers instruct users to update their registered address any time they move to a new address so that emergency workers don’t show up at the wrong house during an emergency. And when a VoIP customer wants to make calls through their VoIP number when they are traveling, VoIP providers recommend that the user changes their E911 registered address to the address that you are staying at, be it a hotel or relative’s home.

Accidents may happen while you travel, or in the comfort of your own home.  Emergencies can’t be predicted, but having a lifesaver just a dial away with VoIP is all the assurance that you need. 

Inputing address information or changing address information is easy.  Since all VoIP accounts are managed online by users, a VoIP caller just has to log in and type the home, hotel, or work address they want emergency workers to go to during an emergency.  

VoIP Phones Need Reliable Internet and Electricity to Work

Another thing to be aware of: Because VoIP service depends on a reliable Internet connection, it also depends on a reliable energy source. This means that in the event of inclement weather or other power outage situations, you should be prepared with a back-up power source for your Internet connection like a battery plug-in, or a generator if you expect long periods of power outage.

Your VoIP is there to save you money, and with E911 it can also save your life. 

Rachel Greenberg writes about VoIP and ideas for business improvement. She is based out of the San Diego area.

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