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Knowledge base 999/112 Emergency services

For most of us we hope never to have to access emergency services, but there is always the risk that one day we will need to, and then it could be a matter of life or death. So access to emergency services is important. As a telco we take this seriously.

Land lines

Normally, calls to 999 or 112 can be made from a traditional landline phone, and mostly just work.

If you have any sort of traditional landline available to you, or even an old fashion payphone, this is by far the best choice to make a call to 999/112.

Mobile phones

If you have a mobile phone, this is likely to still work in the event of a power cut, but even without a power cut, it is a good choice for trying to call 999/112 if a landline is not available. It is also much more portable so you can call from the location of the emergency more easily. Mobile phones also provide some degree of location information to emergency services, but not as accurate as a landline, so be sure to explain your exact location to the operator.

In theory a mobile will make use of any network available to call 999/112, not just the one to which you are subscribed, but probably best not to rely on this.

SIP2SIM

Our SIP2SIM service connects to a VoIP back-end for making normal calls, however, if you call 999/112 you will be using the mobile network directly via a local mobile operator without involving us, or your VoIP provider, in any way. As explained above, the location information may not be very accurate so be sure to give your location clearly to the operator. You may also find they think you are calling from an unfamiliar mobile number.

Data SIMs

Our Data SIMs do not offer voice calls. It is not inconceivable that a 999/112 call may be possible, but unlikely. Do not rely on this.

Obviously if you are using VoIP over internet access using a Data SIM, then this should work in the same way as our normal VoIP service. However, as with 999/112 over VoIP, and unlike normal mobile calls, the location data the emergency services receive WILL NOT automatically be the location of your mobile, so it is important to provide your location to the operator clearly and explain you are using VoIP so they do not send vehicles to your home address when not at home.

VoIP services

We offer VoIP services. This is what is called an Over The Top (OTT) service, which means that it operates over an Internet access service. The Internet access service can be provided by anyone. The Internet service provider is not responsible for providing 100% reliable access to 999/112 as they are offering an Internet service not a telephone service.

Internet access can break, and if/when it does, your VoIP access to 999/112 will not work. Bear in mind that in most cases, even a simple power cut, will mean you have no Internet access.

We recommend you ensure you have other means to access 999/112, such as landline or mobile.

Broadband services

We also offer Internet access / broadband services. Where we do so, we are doing so independently of any VoIP services, and not a package as a "landline replacement service". Whilst we make every effort to provide a 100% reliable Internet access service, things can break for a wide variety of reasons, even simple power failure at your premises.

We recommend you do not rely on our Internet access service for 999/112 access, and ensure you have other means such as mobile or landline.

Copper pairs

We offer copper pairs for broadband, but these do not include any telephone services. As such they are not able to access 999/112. BT are phasing out their copper voice services over the next decade and so eventually all BT based landlines will not have any 999/112 services on them.

In the short term, on some services, until BT do phase out copper voice services, if you are in a remote location with no mobile coverage, we may be able to provide access to 999/112 on the copper pair using a traditional telephone handset. This is not our standard service, but if you are a vulnerable user (as OFCOM call it) in such a remote location, with no mobile coverage or alternatives, please do ask staff about this. This is, however, something we are offering as a broadband provider and not a telephony or VoIP provider. It is also something of short term solution as we will be moving all copper pairs to a non telephony back-end service over the coming years in preparation for BT phasing out copper voice services. So again, not to be relied on.

Location data

When using a mobile to call 999/112 the operator does get some location data, but it will not be very precise, so you should make it clear where you are exactly. If calling 999/112 from our SIP2SIM service you may find the operator sees you as calling from an unfamiliar mobile number, which may even be longer than normal numbers. Please do not worry about this or try to correct the operator as that just wastes valuable time.

When using our VoIP service the location information is only provided if you have filled it in, in advance, on our control pages. Please do so if you are using the VoIP service from a fixed location, and obviously if you happen to call 999/112 from somewhere else, you should make sure the operator has your actual location. If calling 999/112 via our VoIP service, in some cases the operator may see you calling from a number starting 0200. Please do not worry about this or try to correct the operator as that just wastes valuable time.

Can we help?

Obviously this may seem a bit dire. Normally mains power is reliable, for most people, as is Internet access and our VoIP service. However, there are some simple steps you can take to help ensure 999/112 is there when you need it.

  • Have a landline! Or know where one is (e.g. neighbour or payphone).
  • Have a mobile, even if you have a separate cheap phone and pay as you go SIM kept on charge by the door in the house just for this. If you do, make sure everyone knows where the emergency phone is.
  • Have more than one Internet provider, so VoIP can be switched to the other provider (ideally automatically). Our VoIP service can be used via any Internet access service, but be careful if you have locaked down the IP addresses for access on the control pages - test calls work via both providers.
  • Have some sort of power backup - such as a small USP - to power your broadband router and VoIP handsets.

Most of all, just take a moment to think about how you can ensure 999/112 continues to work for you and your family in the event of an emergency or power cut.