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VoIP and 999 calls – The full story

One of the advantages of Voice Over IP telephony (VoIP) is that it’s not linked to a specific location. You can choose any geographical number for your business no matter where you are actually located and your clients will be able to reach you paying only the standard fees of a local call. Unfortunately, this great feature comes with one disadvantage, which is the ability to call the emergency service and here’s why…

What happen when you dial 999 from a landline?

In the traditional landline world, a telephone number is associated with a physical line and the address of this line is stored on a national database. So, when someone calls 999 the emergency services operators will be able to locate the caller even if they were unable to talk and reach them as quick as they can to offer the needed help.

What if you called 999 from a VoIP phone?

VoIP systems are not linked to a specific location. A VoIP user with a UK telephone number for example could be dialing 999 from anywhere in the country or even the world. The emergency services won’t be able to automatically receive their address unless they are in a position that allows them to talk and give accurate details of their locations, which might not always be the case. This has flagged a risk on the safety of VoIP users and pushed the Emergency Services Authority (EHA) to take certain steps to mitigate this risk.

How did the EHA solve this issue?

The Emergency Services Authority now legally requires from every VoIP provider to provide an accurate service address for each number they manage. This address is then stored in a central database and used when a user places an emergency call.

However, the emergency services provider cannot rely on this address all the time as the VoIP user could be calling from a different location at the time of their incident. Additionally, they could be facing a situation where the internet connection is not available which means they can’t make a call using a VoIP phone in the first place. At VIP VoIP we would advise all our VoIP users NOT to use their VoIP phone to dial 999 unless they are able to communicate clearly and give their location to the operator.

If you have any more questions about VoIP, please don’t hesitate to call us on 03300 881182

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