Voice over Internet Protocol
A VoIP service uses the internet to send a voice telephone call. VoIP converts an analog voice signal into a digital signal that can be relayed over an internet connection. There are several different ways to connect and use a VoIP service. A common method requires special adapters that allow a subscriber to plug a traditional phone into a wall outlet but uses the modem of your computer to process the call. In this manner, placing and receiving calls are very similar to using a traditional telephone service. Another common method allows the caller to place a call directly from a computer using a dial pad on the screen and using and internal/external microphone and speakers. Some VoIP services make it is possible to make calls through a mobile device (i.e. laptop) and a wireless internet connection while on the go. Example: Mr. Smith takes his laptop computer with VoIP service on vacation and uses an internet hotspot to get connection. Mr. Smith can make a voice call through his laptop using his the VoIP service he subscribes to.
For more information on how VoIP services work, visit the FCC.gov website. (Voice Over internet)
While this technology has become popular due to reduced costs and the mobility it can provide, there are a couple of details that need to be considered when choosing to subscribe to VoIP services and how this type of service can affect the subscriber in the event of an emergency.
- When using an internet connection to place a voice call, if there is a loss in power, chances are likely that calls may not be able to be placed or received.
- In the event of a natural disaster and there is a loss of utilities, it is likely that power and telephone services will be restored before internet service.
- Caller location information is based on what the subscriber provides when signing up for service. If the subscriber provides his home address for the account and then takes a laptop computer to another location and uses his VoIP service to call 9-1-1, it is possible that the address that will be provided to the 9-1-1 center will be the subscriber’s home address and not the current location. It is important for subscribers of this type of VoIP service to insure that they change their physical address in their account when relocating. If changing the subscriber address is not feasible nor realistic, the caller must remember to provide an address when calling 9-1-1.