When making the switch to a VoIP system, it is important to remember that emergency calls are handled a bit differently than they are with traditional landlines. Since calls are handled over the Internet and they are associated with an IP address rather than a phone number, people who use VoIP services need to make sure they give their provider an up-to-date phone number. Once this is done, making an emergency call is as easy as dialing 911. Additionally, VoIP phone systems offer advantages in emergencies and disaster situations as compared to landlines.
FCC Requirements for E911 Services
In order to ensure the public has access to emergency services whether they are using a landline or VoIP phones, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has established guidelines for enhanced 911 (E911) services. These guidelines ensure that those who use VoIP services have their call back numbers and locations transmitted to emergency personnel when they dial 911. When VoIP providers enroll a new customer in services, they must obtain a current permanent address for the customer. This location information is then securely stored with the customer’s phone number.
How VoIP Service Providers Handle Emergency Calls
When a VoIP customer places an emergency call, the calling number (ANI) is transmitted to the VoIP Position Center (VPC). The VPC then looks up the ANI in the database to find the callers location. The system then uses routing rules and instructions to direct the call to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). The PSAP provides emergency personnel with the caller’s phone number and location information.
The Advantages of VoIP Services in Emergencies
With the increased intensity of natural disasters, businesses are paying more attention to their disaster recovery plans. Since VoIP phone systems are located offsite and have multiple redundancies, it is unlikely that a business will lose phone services in the event of a prolonged power outage and complete destruction of a building. The business owner just needs to redirect calls to mobile devices or employees home so they can maintain contact with their clients.
- Emergency calls with VoIP systems are handled a bit differently by the provider than those placed on landlines, but end users will not notice a difference.
- FCC E911 guidelines ensure a caller’s callback number and location information is transmitted to emergency services personnel.
- Emergency calls are routed through a database that links the caller’s name with a phone number and location.
- VoIP phone systems are an essential part of a business recovery plan.