VoIP and 911 Service

This document covers the topic of VoIP and 911 Service and how to reduce possible safety risks. 

Created: December 2022

Permalink: https://wildix.atlassian.net/wiki/x/kABmBQ

VoIP and 911 Service

Portable interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services can be used from virtually any internet connection anywhere, which raises challenges for the emergency services community in determining the location from which a 911 call has originated.

You should be aware that:

  • VoIP 911 calls may not connect to the 911 call center serving your current location or may improperly ring to the administrative line of the 911 call center, which may not be staffed after hours or by trained 911 operators.

  • VoIP 911 calls may correctly connect to the 911 call center but not automatically transmit the caller's phone number and/or location information.

  • VoIP customers may need to provide location or other information to their VoIP providers, and update this information each time they change locations for their VoIP 911 service to function properly.

  • VoIP service may not work during a power outage or when the internet connection fails or becomes overloaded.

Tips for subscribers to fully interconnected VoIP service

If you have or are thinking of subscribing to an interconnected VoIP service, you should:

  • Provide your accurate physical address to your interconnected VoIP service provider to ensure that emergency services can quickly be dispatched to your location.

  • Be familiar with your VoIP service provider's procedures for updating your address, and promptly update address information in the event of a change.

  • Have a clear understanding of any limitations of your 911 service.

  • Inform children, babysitters and visitors about your VoIP service and its 911 limitations, if any.

  • If your power is out or your internet connection is down, be aware that your VoIP service may not work. Consider installing a backup power supply, maintaining a traditional phone line or having a wireless phone as a backup.

  • If you have questions about whether the phone service you are receiving is an interconnected VoIP service, contact your service provider for further information.

  • 911 call centers currently lack the technical capability to receive photos and video. In addition, the ability to send text messages to 911 is only available in certain areas.

FCC E911 rules

The FCC requires that providers of interconnected VoIP telephone services using the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) meet Enhanced 911 (E911) obligations. E911 systems automatically provide emergency service personnel with a 911 caller's call-back number and, in most cases, location information.

To reduce possible risks to public safety, the FCC requires interconnected VoIP providers to:

  • Automatically provide 911 service to all customers as a standard, mandatory feature. VoIP providers may not allow customers to "opt-out" of 911 service.

  • Obtain a customer's physical location prior to service activation, and provide one or more easy ways for customers to update the location they have registered with the provider if it changes.

  • Transmit all 911 calls, as well as a callback number and the caller's registered physical location, to the appropriate emergency services call center or local emergency authority.

  • Take appropriate action to ensure customers have a clear understanding of the limitations, if any, of their 911 service. Providers must distribute labels warning customers if 911 service may be limited or not available and instruct them to place the labels on or near equipment used with VoIP service.

  • Obtain affirmative acknowledgement from all customers that they are aware of and understand the limitations of their 911 service.

  • Ensure that a 911 call is routed to the appropriate 911 call center in areas where emergency service providers are not capable of receiving or processing the location information or call back numbers are not automatically transmitted with 911 calls.

VoIP service providers that do not fully interconnect with the public network are not currently required to comply with the FCC's 911 and E911 rules.

Emergency Service Disclosure Applicable to all Calling Services Offered by Wildix

The limitations detailed below are applicable to all Wildix services. Customer agrees to inform all users of Wildix services of the potential complications arising from the delivery of emergency services when dialing 911. Specifically, Customer acknowledges and agrees to inform all employees, guests and other third persons who may use Wildix VoIP services of the limitations detailed below associated with all of Wildix emergency calling capabilities.

  1. All Wildix services have 911 capabilities that are different than those offered by traditional providers of local telephone services: Customer acknowledges and agrees that all of Wildix services are Internet based and that the 911 calling capabilities associated with Wildix services are different from those offered by traditional providers of local telephone services. Wildix VoIP calling services are not meant to be relied upon in the case of an emergency. While Wildix attempts to provide access to emergency service, these VoIP services are not intended to be used to support or to carry emergency calls to any type of hospitals, law enforcement agencies, medical care units or any other kind of emergency services. YOU SHOULD MAINTAIN AN ALTERNATIVE MEANS OF CALLING EMERGENCY SERVICES.
  2. 911 Service will NOT Work If You Experience A Power Outage, Service Outage or any other network disruption. Outages of your electricity and problems with your connection, including network congestion, will disrupt any Wildix service and you will not be able to use it for 911 emergency calling.
  3. 911 Service Will NOT Work If Your Service Is Disconnected Or You Experience An Outage For Any Reason. If you have a service outage due to a suspension of your account due to billing issues or for any other reason, you will not be able to use any Wildix services for any calls, including for emergency 911 calls.
  4. You May Not Be Able to Reach the Correct Emergency Services If You Have A Telephone Number That Does Not Match Your Actual Geographic Location. VoIP services are technically capable of being used in locations that are not associated with the traditional geographic area of a telephone number. These capabilities can cause 911 problems however. All 911 capabilities will only be available in the location that you have associated with the particular Wildix assigned direct-inward-dial (“DID”) telephone number assigned to the Customer. For Basic 911 Services or E911 to be accurately routed to the appropriate emergency call center, the Customer must provide accurate DID telephone numbers as the call-back telephone number for all 911 calls and accurate address information. Additionally, if you are using the service in a location that uses a different area code than the area code in the number you are using with your VoIP service, when you dial 911 you may not be able to reach any emergency personnel. Even if you do reach emergency personnel, your call may not reach the emergency personnel near your actual physical location and the emergency personnel may not be able to transfer your call or respond to your emergency.
  5. You May Not Be Able To Reach the Correct Emergency Service Center If You Fail to Register A Valid Service Address. Failure to provide a correct physical address in the correct format may cause all Basic 911 Service or E911 calls to be routed to the incorrect local emergency service provider. Furthermore, use of any Wildix service from a location other than the location to which such service was ordered, i.e., the “primary registered address,” may result in Basic or Enhanced 911 calls being routed to the incorrect local emergency service provider.
  6. You May Not Be Able to Reach the Correct Emergency Services If You Move Your Phone to a Location Different From the Address You Initially Registered. It is important that you register accurate location information every time you move the equipment associated with your Wildix service. If you move your Wildix equipment to another location without reregistering, when you dial 911, you may not be able to reach any emergency personnel. Even if you do reach emergency personnel, if you have not provided valid location information you will not be calling the emergency personnel near your actual location and this emergency personnel may not be able to transfer your call or respond to your emergency.
  7. You May Not Be Able to Reach the Correct Emergency Services If You Fail to Accurately Register or Reregister Your New Location Or Call 911 Within 48 Hours of Updating Your Location. It is important that you register an accurate location when you initiate your service and every time you move the equipment associated with your Wildix VoIP service. When you change your location, it may take up to 48 hours for your location change to be reflected in our records. During that time, you may not be able to reach may not be able to reach the correct emergency services center or any emergency service provider by dialling 911.