9-1-1: Online Phone and Emergency Service

Non-Traditional Phone Service and Emergency Access
Consumers who are considering buying Internet-based telephone services should be aware that not all services provide access to the 9-1-1 network.

Sometimes 9-1-1 service is provided, however it is not the full service we are used to receiving via regular wire line telephones.

When a person calls 9-1-1 from a wire line telephone, emergency service providers automatically identify the caller’s location and can direct emergency personnel to that location even if the caller is not able to provide an address.

If you are considering an Internet-based telephone service for your household, you should ask the provider whether the offer includes 9-1-1 service. If the advertising, whether in store brochures, media print, online, or oral communications, is silent on this issue, it is likely that 9-1-1 is not being provided.

If the provider claims to provide 9-1-1 service, ask whether 9-1-1 calls are routed to the traditional 9-1-1 network. If yes, then the service is just like traditional telephone service. If the provider makes it voluntary or mandatory to sign up for 9-1-1 service, you may be required to go online and enter your name and address so you can be located in an emergency. It will be very important for you to enter the information accurately and keep it up to date.

If you are considering a telephone service which does not include traditional 9-1-1 service, you should ask yourself how members of your household, including children, visitors and babysitters, will call for help in an emergency. Don’t forget that they will have to know your address and be able to communicate it to emergency personnel.