Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and 911
What is VoIP?
911 has the ability to identify phone service through an internet service provider. This service is known as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Names also referenced are: Broadband Phone, Voice on the Net(VON), Cable Phone, Digital Telephone or Net Phone, among others.
But like any new technology, VoIP doesn’t come without a few kinks. Before you take the plunge review these tips and precautions to help ensure your transition to VoIP doesn’t leave you wishing you hadn’t changed from traditional service.
You can reach assistance by dialing 911 on most VoIP phones. However, there are differences between VoIP 911 and traditional 911 services. It is important to familiarize yourself with these differences.
VoIP Test Calls
Using a non-emergency number contact your 911 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) center before making a test call. Confirm that you are in their jurisdiction and ask if you can place a test 911 call. Many centers will comply.
A major complaint of many users is that they frequently have dropped calls. This isn’t always the fault of the VoIP provider. It may be your broadband connection. You may want to ask around to see if the provider you are thinking of signing up with has a history of these types of problems.
VoIP is an attractive option, but be aware that during service outages, just like with a cordless phone, you may not be able to make an outgoing call on a VoIP phone. Also, if there is a service interruption with your internet provider, you may not be able to make or receive phone calls. You can prevent this though, at least in the short term, by getting a battery backup for your equipment. Some cable modems even come complete with battery backups that can last for up to eight hours.
What is Broadband?? Nowadays, Broadband is the the most commonly used form of internet connection due to its high access speeds. DSL (digital subscriber line), satellite, fiber-optic, and cable are all types of broadband connection. Dial-up connection is cheaper, but much slower and therefore not often used. It is the only non-broadband internet service available.
The quality of your VoIP experience depends on the quality of your high-speed internet service. Both DSL and cable internet connections can provide the speed necessary to make VoIP phone calls. Of course, faster service comes with a higher price tag and it’s up to you whether or not you need the additional speed.
Bandwidth: Is your high-speed internet connection fast enough? For the uninitiated, bandwidth is the ability to transfer data (such as a VoIP phone call) from one point to another in a fixed amount of time. Essentially, the more bandwidth your modem has the better quality your phone calls. Most VoIP calls don’t use a huge amount of bandwidth, but if you’re planning for multiple phone lines on the same internet connection you need to make sure that your bandwidth can support them. If simultaneously downloading from the internet and making phone calls, you may notice a decrease of quality for both.