911 and POTS line with no service?

I’ve heard a rumor (urban legend?) that POTS carriers are required to connect a 911 call even if a POTS line has its service turned off. Does anyone know if that’s true?

If so, I could continue to use my VOIP service and not worry that it doesn’t have e911 or that e911 doesn’t supply locational data.

This is probably a question more for a legal forum, but I figured Asterisk users would have already solved this ages ago.


P.S. I live in Michigan if that’s applicable to the answer.

Well Im not for sure what the law is on it but remember reading about ti a while back. But I can tell you I got pissed at Bell South a while back and just told them to turn my service off. After that when you tried to call on the line you would get a recording saying that you could only dial 911 from the phone and to call bellsouth if i wanted to establish service. I went with another provider about a week later so how long it would have worked I cant say.
Another thing would be how would you know if the line was working if you never used it? It could have an outage and no one would know till someone tried to dial 911

I just read the following from Answers.com, which, in of itself doesn’t prove anything, but makes for interesting reading…

It’s kinda strange – in order to test this I’d actually have to CALL 911. I wonder how many test calls they receive a day.

This is probably different based on telco and region. I sell VOIP service through our asterisk server in central FL area serviced by Sprint/UTF and Bellsouth. We are using ATA’s with two FXS and lifeline FXO. We are plugging the FXO into our users disconnected land lines in both Sprint and Bellsouth territory with no problems. We configure our ATA’s to look for 911 and route through the FXO. Some ATA’s even have a physical voip/landline switch incase of pawer failure so you could still use your 911 directly. Your milage may vary.

On a side note, as to testing this. I was informed twice now that there is a florida statute involving steep fines for non emergency 911 calls including testing. There is a seperate testing facliltiy nuber where they can ss7 lookup you location and tell you whether or not 911 will get routed correctly.

Becuase Of my ecperience so far I am having a hard time seeing why larger providers arnt using this as a workaround to satisfy FCC rulings?

Mastafunk, that’s an interesting solution.

However, I would STRONGLY caution you about counting on the availability of the service.

If the telco dial tone ever fails. (Storms, wiring difficulties, etc) There’s no obligation by the local telco to repair it to maintain your company’s 911 obligation.

Telcos are not obligated to provide repair services to people who aren’t their customers.

The worst thing is that you may not find out that your customer’s telco dial tone has failed until it’s suddenly needed. (Bad. Very bad.)

I think the reason other companies are not using this as a method of providing 911 access service, is because they wouldn’t really be providing 911 access service. The local telco would be. If it works, it works great. If it fails, there’s no way to fix it, and as the service provider, they’re responsible for providing the service if they say they can.

If I were on a board at the FCC, I wouldn’t say that your company had met your 911 obligations at all.

When you test 911, the worst thing you can possibly do is dial and quickly hang up. They dispatch, even if you call back and say “oh, sorry!”.

If you call 911 to make a test call, make sure you are quick and to the point stating that it is a test call. Do this during non-peak hours/holidays. They will probably thank you for not hanging up, and disconnect.

I have never heard of anyone being fined for a 911 test call.

Call me stupid, but I have accidently dialed 911 a couple weeks ago. Its an office phone, and I dialed 91 (paused to look up the long distance number) 1xxxyyyy. I heard lots of clicking, noting that the switch routed that garble to 911. I stayed on the phone, told them the situation, and it was over and done.

No police showed up to the office…no fines…and let me tell you, our office is a top offender here for 911 fines.

Apparently i am not the only one to do this type of screw up long distance call, and this particular person just hangs up without explaination…cops come…and they get angry and fine us $500.