If You Dial 911, Will it Work? Important Considerations for Telecommuters

Voip 911.

There are many benefits to mobility (choosing where you work). For individuals, you can avoid commuting and enjoy more efficient work and family time without sacrificing access to a business telephone and other company resources. Businesses find cost savings while getting more productive workers. With the flexibility that Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offers, workers can take their phones home with them.

Working from home a few days a week using a phone provided by your workplace seems like a great benefit. However, if an emergency arises and you call 911, the address that emergency dispatchers see might be your company's HQ address. If you can't tell the dispatcher otherwise, responders will go to the wrong location and you may find yourself unable to receive the critical care you require.

Business phone users today have their own, direct phone number when they dial out. It is this number that identifies the call. Most telephone carriers can register an address for each individual phone number for E911 purposes. However, there are a few popular carriers who cannot and this could cause serious problems for those working outside a normal business environment.

A warning sign.If you are a teleworker/telecommuter and your situation is similar, please call your phone carrier and ask if they can have your home address listed when you dial a 911 call from your home business phone. (If not, we recommend you put a bright colored WARNING sticker on your business phone and have another land line phone nearby for emergencies.)

One Carrier's Story

The Vonage logo.

Vonage, founded in 2001, was the first large carrier to offer 911 calling from a VoIP platform in 2003. At that time, it was not clearly marketed to customers that for 911 location services to work, subscribers had to activate the 911 calling feature by registering a "remote user" address that may be in use with this phone number and track the emergency call to the true address of need. Customers were then responsible for maintaining their 911 location information at all times. Unfortunately, in 2005, one Texan family's tragedy (their house broken into and two people shot) highlighted the fact that this customer responsibility was not well advertised. The state sued Vonage for failure to alert all customers that 911 services were restricted to registered users. Vonage settled this lawsuit and now advertises extensively regarding registering your phone addresses.

How to Protect Yourself Before an Emergency Strikes

LeBlanc Communications understands that not every phone provider is created equal. Your services will vary based on your location and the options to which you subscribe. We always ask the questions, "Do you have/need off site phones or remote offices using the same phone services as HQ? Have you registered these locations with your service provider? Do they offer individual 911 addresses?" These are questions that must be answered for your remote employees to be safe.

Three things that you can do to protect your employees and stop exposing yourself to liability:

  • Try to register the address of remote phones with your carrier for E911.
  • Use a bright colored label on all remote phones warning NOT to call 911 from these phones.
  • Inform your remote employees in writing to use another phone/line for 911 if necessary.

Our free "Carrier Analysis" for your business will highlight which services do not work with 911 for remote workers. We can help you to understand the right services for your business and we STAND BEHIND every Internet/Telephone carrier we suggest. Call LeBlanc Communications today at 203-938-8400 before you find yourself in an emergency.