Friday, February 22, 2013

911 and VoIP - What You Need to Know

In recent times, the introduction of VoIP providers for telecommunications has changed the whole concept of the telephone, but one important issue you need to be aware of is  VoIP and 911 functionality.

It cannot be denied that the ability to dial 911 in case of an emergency can never be compromised, and for this reason alone many people are nervous to completely give up their traditional phones altogether. 911, is a number that should be available to the entire population, free of charge, twenty four hours a day, and the technology used to make the call should not matter. A 911 call automatically diverts to the Public Switch Telephone Network, and the Federal Communications Commission has taken steps to provide this same service with VoIP as from a standard landline, mobile or cell phone.

Using a VoIP provider for your phone calls means cheaper calling, with no phone lines and just the use of an Internet signal. In fact, VoIP has taken the business world by storm as well as being popular with individuals for totally free video calling. But what needs to be recognized here is the need to make emergency calls too in this way. The trouble that arises when trying to use a VoIP provider for traditional and emergency type calling is that the portable provider will not always recognize where the call is being generated from. In fact, this is something that many people like about VoIP service providers such as Datavo; they can call from wherever they want and stay anonymous. However, when calling 911, a vital component of the call is that the operator can identify your position immediately without you having to tell them; and here lies the dilemma of VoIP and 911functionality. 

Improvements have been made to step up the safety of relying on VoIP for emergency calling, and now all 911 calls will reach the correct public safety authority. What cannot however be done is to ensure that the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) staff answering the call can call you back if necessary as the origin of your call is not clear for them to see. In fact, although precautions are in place and improvements are being sought, at this present moment it cannot be guaranteed that one hundred percent of VoIP calls will be directed correctly, some being directed wrongly to unmanned lines of the PSAP. You can however set a location on your VoIP phone, but this will only work if you remember to change it as you move around. Also, as VoIP relies on an Internet signal, you need to be prepared for times when you simply cannot get enough signal to call in bad weather, or when your Internet goes down and you cannot call at all. Datavo makes sure in  providing their customers with up to the minute information on the limitations of VoIP and 911 functionality, the message for now being that if you are with children, the elderly or in a place where you may be at risk and need to call the emergency services, always have a traditional or cellular device on hand.

1 comment:

  1. What great information. I had no idea that they were even attempting to make this happen. I have been searching for voip service providers when I came across your post. Thanks so much for the interesting information.