reports of a 17-year-old girl who, earlier this month, tried to call 911 after both her parents were shot by intruders but was informed from their VoIP provider that 911 was not available. Fortunately she was able to escape and contact the police through other means but how long can this continue?
There are two key reasons why the current 911 system does not work with most VoIP providers.
First off, 911 centers do have really phone numbers. These numbers are used when you dial 911 and the phone system routes your 911 call to that of the 911 center. These numbers are naturally not published and therefore your VoIP providers may not have the appropriate number to forward your call to. In some cases the emergency centers number will publish an administrators number and the VoIP service will use that number but those lines are typical business lines, not emergency lines.
Secondly, when using VoIP you can be anywhere. Rather then "ringing" your home phone, your providers "rings" your VoIP box using your IP. This means that anywhere in the world that you plug your box into your box will connect to your provider and relay your current IP. You could be at a hotel or perhaps on vacation in Europe and you will still recieve your calls as if you were at home. Though this is a fantastic feature it makes routing 911 information difficult, if not impossible. Some systems do route your "registered" location but obviously that can be inaccurate.