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VoIP Phone - VoIP 911 Differences

Interconnected VoIP Providers - 911 Emergency Service Differences and Requirements

Traditional phone services associate a specific phone number with a fixed street address. In contrast, VoIP services enable users to access their home or business phone service basically anywhere they can can connect to a broadband Internet connection. Since these VoIP services can be used from almost anywhere, caller location can't be automatically determined.

Because of this difference, and to reduce any assiciated risk to public safety, the FCC has imposed the following requirements for interconnected VoIP providers:
  • VoIP providers must support 911 service to all customers without them having to specifically request it, as a standard and mandatory service. Also, VoIP providers may not allow customers to opt-out of the 911 service as provided.

  • Prior to activating a new customerís service, VoIP providers must obtain the street address where the service will initially be used, so that emergency services will have the best chance to locate the customer in the event of a 911 call. VoIP providers must also provide a way for clients to update their registered street address, in case of a change.

  • VoIP providers must transmit all 911 calls, including a call-back number and the registered street address of the customer, to the appropriate emergency call center or local emergency authority.

  • VoIP service providers must take appropriate action to ensure customers clearly understand any existing limitations of their 911 service. VoIP providers must, prominently and in plain language, advise new and existing customers of circumstances in which their VoIP 911 service may be unavailable or in some way limited in contrast to traditional 911 services. Providers must also distribute warning labels or notices to all clients if 911 service may be unavailable or limited, instructing customers to place them on or near any VoIP service related equipment.

  • VoIP providers are required to obtain affirmative acknowledgement from each existing customer that they are aware and have an understanding of any existing limitations of their VoIP 911 service.

  • In some cases, emergency service providers are not yet capable of receiving and/or processing the call-back number or street address information required to be transmitted with VoIP 911 calls. In cases like this, VoIP providers must ensure 911 calls are routed to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).
For additional questions concerning VoIP 911 service provider requirements and regulations, visit the FCC website here.