Cellular phone service

Wireless phone service also known as cellular service is rapidly replacing traditional telephone technology.  Many households have chosen to forgo the traditional landline telephones in their home in lieu of a device that can be used almost anywhere.  (The term wireless should not be confused with cordless telephones.)  While wireless devices are convenient and often cost efficient, there are some important facts that all users should know when using wireless cellular devices when calling 9-1-1.

  • Cellular services may have areas without coverage. This may hinder the ability to call 9-1-1 or for the caller’s transmission to be heard clearly.
  • Location accuracy depends on the cellular service provider.  When calling 9-1-1, either the tower location that your call was being transmitted from (Phase I) or the location where the call was being placed from (Phase II) will be displayed on the display screen in the 9-1-1 center.  FCC standards require between 50 and 300 feet accuracy by cell phone carriers depending on the technology being used.  Being provided with coordinates of the caller’s location or the cellular tower has proven helpful in many cases when the caller is unable to provide location information but it is not a guarantee. For this reason it is critical to provide the exact location of the emergency when calling 9-1-1.
  • Cellular services do not provide information about which suite or apartment number you may be calling from within a building. It is important to remember to provide the 9-1-1 operator with names of businesses or apartments, building numbers of complexes, unit/suite numbers or apartment numbers.
  • Cellular telephones may still be able to dial 9-1-1 even without a service contract.  Please do not provide “old” non-used cellular phones for children to play with.
  • A new cellular phone technology is recently being offered.  A regular telephone or cordless telephone is connected to a cellular base within the home or office. This technology is using a cellular network.


For more information on how cellular phone service works, please visit the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Website at: http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/faqs-wireless-phones