Providers of two-way VoIP services, which would allow you to make and
receive calls, must provide you with access to the emergency call service.
Providers of one-way VoIP services that allow you to make calls only, are also
obliged to provide you with access to the emergency call service unless they
clearly inform you that such access is not available and you acknowledge this
limitation. If it's important to you that you can make emergency calls
from your VoIP service, check with your VoIP provider about access to emergency
The quality of service provided over some broadband connections can be
variable, which may impact on the ability of an emergency services operator to
communicate clearly with the caller.
Locating you in an emergency
It is important to note that, as with mobile phones, emergency services can
have difficulty identifying the location of a call made over a VoIP service.
This is because calls from many VoIP services are capable of being made from
anywhere in the world where a broadband service is available, rather than being
in a fixed location like the regular fixed home phone. As such, when a call is
made to emergency services from a VoIP service, it is likely that the emergency
services operator will ask you to provide specific location information.
It's also worth being aware that if your VoIP service doesn't give you a
number for receiving calls from regular phone lines, emergency services also
won't be able to call you back after you've made an emergency call, in the
event they need further information.
VoIP services are dependent on access to the internet, either through a
computer or a broadband modem. If there is a power outage that affects the
power supply to the computer or the broadband modem, the VoIP service will not
be available. This includes calls to emergency services on 000 (or 106 for
people with speech or hearing impairments that use a TTY or modem).
This situation is not unique to VoIP services. Mobile phones and cordless
phones are also dependent on a power source, and households which rely on such
phones as their primary means of making calls often have a regular,
non-portable fixed line phone that can be plugged directly into a phone socket.
These phones receive power direct from the phone network in the case of a
blackout allowing ongoing availability of phone services, including calls to
emergency services. A similar back-up arrangement is worth considering in the
case of VoIP services.