Another look at phone service

newsroom@islandpacket.comJuly 7, 2014 

The Bluffton Township Fire District is right to warn those who have home phone service through an Internet provider that they may get a busy signal or an error message when they dial 911.

Sometimes, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers either do not set up 911 service or don't do it correctly. Residents may not know it's a problem until an emergency arises.

We echo the advice of Lee Levesque, the district's public education officer, that those who use an Internet phone service should take a close look at their plan. (Unless you have an actual land line, your service is likely provided by a VoIP.) Give your service provider a call to make sure your 911 service is set up.

Other questions to ask is whether 911 calls are routed to a national emergency call center. If that's the case, 911 callers must relay their phone number and location to a company representative, using up valuable time in an emergency situation. And be aware that no matter who the provider is, power outages and disruptions of Internet service could make it difficult to place an emergency call. If that happens, call 911 from you cell phone instead.

While using a VoIP provider can help save money, it may also have some unintended safety consequences. It's worth investigating.

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