Not all phones can provide your location to 911 operators - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Not all phones can provide your location to 911 operators

January 24, 2007

Albany - - Good news for cell phone users. When you call 911 from a cell phone in Dougherty County, first responders can now track your exact location. But that's not the case for some people using non-traditional telephone companies - - causing potential safety problems.

It's supposed to be quick, easy, and convenient. Phone service through the internet. You keep your regular phone, but it connects to an internet modem. Media Com is offering a three in one package - cable, internet, and phone at discounted rates.

These days you don't even need a traditional phone anymore. Phone through the internet is now an alternate choice. All you need is a computer and preferably a high speed internet connection.

You can use a microphone to speak into and a headpiece to hear.

Vonage is one of a handful of companies that woo you in by offering lower prices for telephone service. But according to Albany's Emergency Management Deputy Director, in the end, you may pay the price.

"We may not know where that individual is located because wherever the server is for that company it will show that location and not the individuals location here in Albany or Dougherty County."

So if a company server is based in Alabama and you're calling from Georgia using an internet based phone service, first responders in Albany may have no way of finding you.

"That's been brought to the attention of the companies that provide the service and also to our legislators. We have to know where the individuals are located to serve them better."

Especially since 911 workers just received new technology to better track people calling from cell phones. Now they want to make sure all callers can receive attention in the event of an emergency.  

Representatives from Media Com and Vonage  says their phone services provide their customers' information to 911. Vaught says before you sign up with an internet-based phone service, you should ask if they do too.

He also says if you lose an internet signal with these types of phones, you could also lose your ability to call 911, so you should have a back-up.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=phoneservice/bs