Internet and cable-based telephones, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or broadband telephones, look and function like traditional telephones, but use a high-speed internet or cable connection to make and receive calls. If you have a telephone linked to your cable service you likely have a VoIP phone. Like a computer, these phones are not associated with a fixed physical address. This can present challenges for emergency service providers, as some internet phones use technology that does not transfer important safety information such as home address and telephone numbers to 9-1-1 Centres. Ideally your phone would transfer the address of the phone and the name of the owner automatically and directly to 911 even if you cannot speak due to a medical situation. This way responders can still attend in case you cannot verbally speak to the dispatcher. Not all VoIP phone do this.
9-1-1 calls placed from VoIP phones are often routed to a third-party service provider that in turn transfers the call to the closest 9-1-1 centre, but without your address information. This means that your location may not be known to the dispatcher unless you can speak to them. This can cause delays or even calls where crews do not know where to go in the case where persons have either a serious language barrier or cannot speak. Anyone who uses internet or cable-based phones should contact their VoIP phone providers to find out what emergency features are included in their package or offered by the company. Regardless, it is good practice to leave your address posted near your phone so any 911 caller can readily identify the location to the 911 operator. Learn more here.