Though VoIP telephony offers many advanced features that aren't available from a traditional phone company, there can be limitations when accessing 911 service. While you can dial 911 from your VoIP phone, your 911 operator may not be able to detect which number you are calling from or where you are located. You can circumvent potential dangers, however, by opting for an enhanced 911 feature, also known as E911.
How it Works
Your VoIP phone number is different from a standard phone number, as it isn't associated with a particular location. This can be an advantage to you, as you will have the chance to place free long distance calls to those within your network and choose any area code. However, in an emergency, you will want a 911 operator to know exactly where you are in an emergency. Many VoIP companies are now offering the advanced feature known as E911. By registering your address with the correct, local 911 call center, an operator will quickly have access to pertinent information when you make an emergency call. If you are going to be exclusively using VoIP in your household, it is recommended that you opt for the E911 feature.
What You'll Need
When choosing VoIP companies, make sure they offer E911. This should definitely be on your checklist of important criteria when selecting a provider. Once you enable your VoIP service, register your address immediately with your call center. No one else will do this for you, so it is important that you put your address on file as soon as possible. Depending on your provider, this advanced feature may come with your service free of charge. Since you can't put a price on a person's life, a nominal fee shouldn't be an issue, however. In the end, you will still be paying far less for VoIP than a standard phone service and you will have access to many more useful features.
There are still VoIP providers that offer a basic 911 service, meaning that you can dial the number with the danger of your operator not knowing where you are calling from. Among other things, E911 service is what you should look for from a company. Many major providers, such as Vonage and SBC, have made the transition to E911 for the safety of their customers.