VoIP Service & Computer Based Telephones
Voice Over Internet Protocol or VoIP telephones are a new and sometimes cheaper way of having telephone service. Availability, low prices, features comparable to traditional telephone service, and portability make VoIP telephones an attractive alternative to traditional telephone service.
While VoIP does provide a viable option, it does not come without risk. Most VoIP services, whether it is Magic Jack™, Vonage™, or Time Warner Cable™ digital telephone service or any other provider, all depend on the owner to keep their address correctly updated to ensure 911 service. As these services are computer based, they cannot draw upon the normal database that fixed telephones or "landline" telephones utilize to correctly route your call based on the address and display your address at the 911 center. If you have your VoIP telephone attached to your laptop and you go to California and dial 911 and you have not changed your address with the telephone provider, you call is going to go to the 911 center associated with your registered address, not the 911 center in California. Conventional landline telephones and cellular telephones go to the 911 center where they are at. VoIP telephones go to the center based on the address they are registered under.
Also with some providers of VoIP service, calling 911 might be different than traditional telephone to 911service. For more information, see the Federal Communications Commission VoIP and 911 Service Consumer Facts (PDF).
The bottom line is that VoIP telephones do not access 911 like landline and cellular telephones do.
If you call us from California, there is little we can do to help you as contrary to popular belief, 911 centers do not have a link to every center in the country. Usually a call can be transferred to bordering counties. Other than that, we would have to search for a number to call just like you would.