About Internet/Digital Phones

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) also called Internet, digital, broadband or cable phone service is a rapidly growing alternative to traditional phone service. Its popularity is fueled primarily by low prices, new features and the consumer's ability to choose a phone number from nearly anywhere in the country (and sometimes, other countries). Many industry experts anticipate VoIP's growth will outpace the growth seen by the wireless industry in the last decade.

VoIP may look and appear to work like a traditional phone, but it connects to the internet not a telephone line. There are several critical factors to consider regarding the impact of this service on your ability to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. While VoIP is an attractive option, it is important for consumers to understand the potential limitations the technology has with respect to accessing 9-1-1.

Tips for Internet/Digital Phone Users (VoIP)

  • Check your service provider's website for emergency calling features.
  • When calling 9-1-1, give your location, and call back number.
  • Call back if you get disconnected.
  • If you travel with your VoIP adapter, your call may not reach the correct 9-1-1 center. Call from another phone.
  • Verify that you can access 9-1-1 with your phone. Check your service provider's Web site for emergency calling features.
  • Be sure to keep your registered location current with your VoIP provider. This is very important if you move!
  • If the power is out, your VoIP service may be out too. Consider purchasing a back-up power supply.
  • If you travel with your VoIP adapter, be sure to update your registered location with your service provider. The time it takes to process the update can vary considerably. Therefore, when traveling, if you need 9-1-1 service, use another phone.
  • Inform children, babysitters, and visitors about your VoIP service.
  • Post your address and call back phone number near your phone.
  • It is a good idea to know what police, fire or sheriff's department is responsible for your 9-1-1 call and have their phone number on hand to provide to the call taker.
  • Consider keeping a land line phone for accessing 9-1-1 emergency services.
  • Burglar alarms, fax machines, satellite TV, and DVRs often rely on analog modems. Check with your VoIP provider to determine if their service supports analog modems. 
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