What is a broadband phone line (VOIP)?
A broadband phone line is similar to that of a regular line in that you can make and receive calls. The difference is that instead of the call being placed over a normal telephone line, it goes through your cable line and then over the internet where it is then routed back to the person on the other end. Over the past year or so, there have been instances of people placing 9-1-1 calls over their VOIP lines and the call has either gone to the wrong 9-1-1 dispatch center or not to a dispatch center at all. This has caused serious delays in getting the emergency help that is being requested. Due to the measures taken at the Montgomery County Emergency Dispatch Services (MCEDS) office, there have been no cases of this occurring thus far in the county. The problems throughout the country have been mostly isolated to the service provider for the VOIP and not the Emergency dispatch centers themselves.
The MCEDS has advised new users of VOIP to take the following 2 steps to avoid a delay in the event you must call 9-1-1 for an emergency. -The new user should ask their VOIP provider, whether it be Vonage, Comcast or whomever; to use the MSAG (Master Street Address Guide) to assure that the proper and correct information is being stored in their customer record. This is key as most providers will use your mailing address as a guide. If you are not already aware, your mailing address is not always the town upon which you live. For example, there are portions of Lower Gwynedd that have Ambler mailing addresses. The service provider may take this as you live in Ambler Borough. This could cause a serious delay in emergency service should the need arise.
New users are advised to call the MCEDS supervisor at (610)631-6541 and explain to the supervisor that they would like to make at least 1 test call to 9-1-1. This will ensure that your proper name, address, phone number and municipality are displayed for the emergency dispatcher. Please remember as well that you will have to provide them with your information; they cannot tell you the information. If the information is incorrect, a representative from Montgomery County will contact you to obtain the proper information and that the VOIP provider has the correct information.