Attorney General Warns Consumers of Voice Over The Internet Technology Limitations
April 4, 2005
LANSING – Attorney General Mike Cox advised consumers today about possible limitations regarding "Voice Over the Internet," or VoIP, technology. Advertised in Michigan, VoIP technology may not offer access to 9-1-1 emergency services.
"While VoIP may offer less expensive telephone service, consumers should be seriously concerned about the possible risks of not having access to 9-1-1 emergency services," Cox said. "I encourage every Michigan consumer to become informed about this new technology and the important differences between it and traditional telephone service, especially in regards to proper access to the 9-1-1 emergency system."
VoIP technology allows consumers to make telephone calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular telephone line. Some VoIP services do not provide access to emergency 9-1-1. A Consumer Alert detailing Cox’s concerns is available at the Attorney General’s Web site, www.michigan.gov/ag.
"If the advertising, brochure, or other marketing materials are silent on this issue, it is likely that 9-1-1 is not being provided," Cox said.
Even for those companies that do provide 9-1-1 service, it may not be the full service on which consumers rely. For example, the landline telephone system automatically provides 9-1-1 operators with the caller's location, while the VoIP service may not. Landline telephone systems also route 9-1-1 calls through emergency phone lines while VoIP may route these calls to a general call center. Even when the VoIP service includes traditional 9-1-1 access, it may not be automatically activated and consumers must take proactive steps in order to place a 9-1-1 call
If you are a VoIP subscriber:
·Verify that you can access 9-1-1 with your telephone by checking your VoIP provider's Web site. DO NOT dial 9-1-1 to test your access to the emergency response network.
·Be sure to activate the emergency calling feature of your service plan, if applicable.
·If the power is out, your VoIP service may be out, too. Consider purchasing a back up power supply.
·Inform children, babysitters, and visitors about your VoIP service and relevant limitations.
·Consider keeping a landline telephone to access 9-1-1 emergency services.
Consumers with a questions or a complaint about VoIP may contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-877-765-8388, by writing to P.O. Box 30213, Lansing, MI 48909, or by visiting www.michigan.gov/ag.
The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern.
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