• FOX23 Investigates: 911 problems could delay emergency response

    By: Shae Rozzi


    Quick facts:

    • Voice over Internet Protocol can be a helpful tool. 
    • VoIP technology presents phone service options at a lower price  than conventional home phones. 
    • The tech is widely used in businesses and school districts- but there could be a problem with the service. 
    • FOX23 Anchor Shae Rozzi spoke with experts who shared how the service might delay emergency response. 
    • For more info from the FCC, click HERE. 


    Related Headlines

    A Broken Arrow man says the address linked to his phone is miles away from his home, which can be a serious issue when calling 911.

    Rick Fankhauser says he likes the inexpensive cost of his voiceover internet protocol, VoIP, phone for his home.

    The technology works by plugging into his router.

    He says that he's discovered that when VoIP users call 911, their correct address may not show up.

    Fankhauser sent letters trying to get answers from local and state state leaders, members of Congress and even the FCC.

    He says he found that no one is really responsible for the issue,

    On the FCC website, a message says, "Not all VoIP services connect directly to emergency services through 911."

    When FOX23 searched for providers, such as Magic Jack, Vonage and AT&T, we found various warnings about 911, such as a call for users to make sure the correct address is registered with the company and warnings of the possibility of losing phone service in a power outage.

    Stephen Bradley, the communications center director for the Broken Arrow Police Department, says someone in Broken Arrow once bought and registered a VoIP device to their home, then sent the phone to a relative in South America. 

    When someone there accidentally dialed 911, the Broken Arrow address showed up.

    Bradley says people sometimes move and forget to change the address.

    He says other problems occur when schools and businesses with locations in multiple cities use the phones, as the phone only shows one address.

    Darryl Maggard, a Muskogee County 911 director, says that those sorts of issues could be life-threatening.

    Maggard says once the correct address did not show up for a local school, he's received calls meant for McAlester and a Muskogee store clerk at a national chain once called 911 and reached a center in a different state.

    In the last case, someone else with a cell phone was able to  call and get help immediately.

    Fankhauser's concern is that during an emergency, someone who is unable to speak will not be able to receive help.

    He and 911 officials say they want VoIP customers to know it's up to them to register the correct address with their provider.

    Muskogee and Broken Arrow officials say VoIP customers can call their non-emergency number to set up a test call to make sure the correct address shows up in the system.

    Tulsa's 911 coordinator, who says they receive 850,000 calls a year, half of which are false alarms and non-emergencies, says they do not have the resources to handle test calls, but recommends that users make sure their correct addresses are registered with their VoIP providers.

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