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With the increasing popularity of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services in our area, it is very important that you check with your service providers to make sure that your addresses and phone numbers are correct and are associated with the correct Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for any potential 9-1-1 calls.

Being able to call 9-1-1 is a vital component of public safety and emergency preparedness. Traditional “wire-line” phone services have generally associated a particular phone number with a fixed address. Cellular phone services have generally associated a particular phone number with both the subscriber’s address and the physical location of the phone itself by means of using the phone’s GPS coordinates or cell tower usages. Depending on the nature of a 9-1-1 call, both wire-line and cell calls allow the local PSAP to help pinpoint a caller’s location to send help.

Consumers who use VoIP should be aware that VoIP 9-1-1 service may work differently from traditional 9-1-1 services. VoIP service allows you to make and receive calls to and from traditional phone numbers using a high-speed (broadband) Internet connection. VoIP services enables users to take their home or business phone service almost anywhere they have internet access. Because VoIP services are portable, or can be used from virtually any Internet connection anywhere, the location of the caller may not be capable of being determined automatically. The only address associated with a VoIP call is the address of the bill, or what the service provider has entered into the system. This can cause an issue if the address is listed incorrectly. Portability raises a number of challenges for the emergency services community. Although the FCC has taken action to make sure that emergency calls from these VoIP services will get through to the appropriate public safety authorities, there are still possible differences between VoIP 9-1-1 and traditional wire-line 9-1-1 service.

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