News release

Caution Urged When Calling 9-1-1 With Internet Phone Services

With continued concerns about the use of Internet-based telephone service for emergency reporting, consumers should be aware they may not be guaranteed the emergency protection offered by traditional 9-1-1 service.

Internet-based telephone service, commonly referred to as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), uses an Internet connection to send and receive calls.

9-1-1 calls in the province are sent directly to one of four 9-1-1 centres in Nova Scotia. However, some Internet-based telephone services send 9-1-1 calls to a national emergency call centre first. These calls cannot be tracked because location and callback information are not transfered with the call. Callers must be able to confirm information with the operators at that centre before the call is forwarded to a centre here in Nova Scotia.

"Nova Scotians need to be aware of the potential risks of using VoIP telephone service for emergency reporting," said David Morse, acting Minister of Emergency Management. "The last thing we want to happen is for an emergency call to be misdirected and someone suffer harm as a result.

"We also have concerns about the additional time it takes to transfer VoIP calls to the appropriate centre. It could be the difference between life and death."

Consumers are encouraged to consider the benefits of traditional phone service. The 2005 Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decision on 9-1-1 emergency services for Voice Over Internet Protocol service providers is available at www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/news/releases/2005/r050404.htm .

Nova Scotia's Emergency Management Office is responsible for the province's 9-1-1 system, which was the first of its kind in Canada. Four call centres are interconnected to receive landline and cellular calls. The software used in call centres is also being upgraded to allow for digital maps that help responders pinpoint the exact location of emergency calls.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

With continued concerns about the use of Internet-based telephone service for emergency reporting, consumers should be aware they may not be guaranteed the emergency protection offered by traditional 9-1-1 service.

Acting Emergency Management Minister David Morse says consumers should be aware of the potential risks of using VoIP telephone service for emergency reporting and that public safety could be compromised if 9-1-1 calls are delayed.

Consumers who want the security of full 9-1-1 service should consider the benefits of traditional phone service.

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Media Contacts:

David Rodenhiser
Emergency Management Office 902-424-0284 E-mail:
Jodi Sibley
Emergency Management Office 902-424-1906 E-mail: