Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Notice
The Greater Harris County 911 Emergency Network administers the 911 system for 48 cities and unincorporated areas of Harris and Fort Bend counties. The network has recently implemented an educational awareness campaign to educate the public on 911 issues surrounding voice over Internet protocol phone (VoIP) service.
Consumers are trading in their traditional phone service for Internet telephone service due to low costs and unlimited calling packages. Unfortunately, many citizens are not aware of the following limitations of this type of phone service as it applies to 911 emergency calling:
- 911 service may not be offered at all and may need to be activated if available.
- Even when activated, emergency calls will not go directly into the 911 system, but to nonemergency administrative lines at the dispatch call center.
- 911 dispatchers may not have the capability to identify the caller's location or call back number.
- If the power is out, VoIP telephone service may also be out.
- If a VoIP adapter is used in a location outside of the home, 911 may not work.
Cell Phone Limitations
Additionally, consumers are trading in their traditional phone service for cellular phones. Many people are making the decision to disconnect their home phone, and use their cellular phones. If you decide to use only a cell phone, keep these important tips in mind:
- A typical home or work phone gives 911 dispatchers an exact location. Cell phones with location technology provide an approximate location (and you may not reach the Lakeview Police Department Dispatcher Office.).
- Cellular location technology is considered accurate if it displays a cellular caller's location within 300 yards, (the length of 3 football fields).
- Typically, larger metropolitan areas (like ours) have updated 911 equipment and technology. However, cell phone service providers often times do not have updated equipment and technology to receive location information. You should check with your provider to verify this service is available.
- Keep your cell phone battery charged.
- If you have children or guests at your home, make sure they have access to a phone and know how to use it.
- Always know your location and be ready to give directions to the 911 dispatcher, regardless of where you are.
- Be aware. "Reverse 911 Notification System" will not send emergency notification (such as evacuation instructions or an Amber Alert) to VoIP or cell phones, as does (normal/landline) telephones.
Choose your phone wisely. Your life could depend on it! Research your decision. Know the benefits and limitations of the phone service prior to making a commitment or signing a contract.