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VOIP 999 address errors

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,101
Registered: 10-09-2010

VOIP 999 address errors

I've raised a ticket, but this could be a much wider problem, and knowing Plusnet they'll fix it for me, but not for anyone else.
I have correctly setup my 999 address, and it has been correctly setup for some time now.
However the twice I have had to call 999 in the last month, both time I was forced to wait several extra minutes whilst answering lots of questions about who I am and where I am, plus in one case I was put through to police in a different county.
This is an urgent problem, and needs to be fixed ASAP, and for the sake of everyone, I request Plusnet check that this problem doesn't exist for other VOIP customers.
30 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,258
Thanks: 433
Fixes: 39
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

I'm not sure that it's a PlusNet ( or even Gradwell! ) problem. From this blog http://www.cloudnetuk.com/blog/?Tag=999%20voip it would appear that even though there may be address information provided by the voip operator with the call, it looks like the emergency services have decided to ignore it and request the details manually.
Quote
So currently, as of 2011 a 999 call originated on a VoIP network will present a flag to the emergency services prompting the operator to ask for a location.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,101
Registered: 10-09-2010

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

That's not what happened in either of my cases, the first time the operator was confused and had to ask a supervisor what to do.
The second time I was just put through to South Yorkshire police (no questions at all asked) when I live in East Sussex, and then when I redialled, I specifically asked for East Sussex and the operator stated I was an unregistered VOIP number.
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,258
Thanks: 433
Fixes: 39
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

You're right , that doesn't sound like what I was suggesting. Must admit I've never had cause to make a 999 call from a voip number. My Dual Phone at home would automatically select the landline for a 999 call if I made one.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,101
Registered: 10-09-2010

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

My ticket was replied to.
Apparently my address was rejected because there was an unwanted comma.
Im not sure how the address that was there was there, but it looks like it came from the PO database, but even if I entered it in that slightly bizzare way, I would have expected to be notified that the address was rejected, and I was not.  The VOIP control panel showed everything as fine.
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,258
Thanks: 433
Fixes: 39
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

How daft, you would have thought that the voip control panel could have rejected it in that case. Once it got to the emergency services I would have thought that it was presented to a 'human' so a superfluous comma wouldn't have mattered!.
puddy
Grafter
Posts: 1,571
Registered: 10-06-2007

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

Quote from: fourfourdevon
However the twice I have had to call 999 in the last month, both time I was forced to wait several extra minutes whilst answering lots of questions about who I am and where I am, plus in one case I was put through to police in a different county.
This is an urgent problem, and needs to be fixed ASAP, and for the sake of everyone, I request Plusnet check that this problem doesn't exist for other VOIP customers.

I got the same problem when dialing 999 from my mobile phone so it not down to plusnet voip service
Puddy
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,101
Registered: 10-09-2010

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

Stupid stupid and more stupid.
Plusnet sort this out.
I had to call 999 yet again in the last hour, and was yet again put through to the wrong police force.
Plusnet I have entered my address correctly and you said nothing.
After previous problems I raised a ticket and was told to remove an extra comma, I did do, only to find the ticket was closed  Angry
And now the address still isnt working.
THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH
SORT THIS OUT, this is 999 for gods sake.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,101
Registered: 10-09-2010

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

Anyone from Plusnet paying attention?
Simon_M
Grafter
Posts: 684
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

I'm not surprised that there are difficulties, because the whole idea of associating an address with a VoIP extension is something that has been tacked on retrospectively by UK government regulation. It's not part of the design - VoIP is designed as a location independent system - one could say that location independence is half the point of having a VoIP service in the first place.
It's a relatively new idea for the emergency service as a whole; in the past, you always had to state your location when you contacted the emergency services whatever means you used. But it obviously makes very good sense not to rely on a confused & panicky caller to relay this information if the system can do it with much greater reliability.
It's easy for fixed lines & mobiles. BT & cable operators can be fairly sure that if they lay a cable to a property & associate a number with it, it's not going to move about much. A mobile call goes through the nearest cell, so as long as the system reports that, again it's easy to know where the caller is (near enough to get the right police force, anyway). It's something a few less technically aware criminals have discovered to their cost.
A VoIP extension, on the other hand, can be anywhere in the world that there is an internet connection. The system doesn't even attempt to report the IP address it's connected through, for the very good reason that geographic reporting of IP address location can be out by hundreds of miles. It relies entirely on the user filling in an address & then promising to only make emergency calls from that location, which makes a nonsense of the whole idea of location independence.
I refuse to supply an address to be associated with my VoIP extensions, because for a significant part of the time, they would be completely wrong. VoIP providers always used to say that their service was unsuitable for calling the emergency services & that customers should always maintain an alternative method of doing so, until regulation obliged them to cobble together some sort of fudge.
Most fixed position VoIP extensions are dependent on mains power to work, so are unreliable for many emergency situations. The only ones that don't are ones designed to be mobile, which probably won't be where the database says they are.
I agree that the supplied systems should work & that Plusnet and/or Gradwell need to make it do what it is supposed to do, but I would never use VoIP to call the emergency services if either fixed line or mobile was available as an alternative. In fact I would always ensure that one or other was available. VoIP was designed from the ground up to be location independent & any attempt to patch something on afterwards is always going to be suspect.
itsme
Grafter
Posts: 5,924
Thanks: 1
Registered: 07-04-2007

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

I concur with the above as the main reason originally for me getting VoIP was to use when I was away from home on business.
But I not sure whether the routing of the calls is done by the database entries, I would have thought it's done by the STD code and as fourfourdevon is using a different STD code to where he live this could be the problem not the incorrect database entry. 
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,101
Registered: 10-09-2010

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

Routing is supposed to be done by the database.  Why on earth is the option to add an emergency address there is this is not the case?  Perhaps VoIP providers just provide it to wind up, annoy and endanger their customers?  Certainly if routing is by code, that would be the only reason to offer and urge customers to fill in their address.
But let's actually be serious for a moment, there is a 999 service on Plusnets VoIP service, it is advertised to work in a certain way, and that is the way it supposed to work, if it isn't they need to change the way its portrayed.
Simon_M
Grafter
Posts: 684
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

I've just read the notes that are on the relevant page where you set the address & the phone number you want passed to the emergency services operator. This has changed since I last read it & it's the same on the equivalent Gradwell page (I have accounts with both).
It is clear from this text that it is the STD code that you record that is the primary information used to determine the location. The full number is the one the emergency services will use if they need to call you back.
It can be different from the normal outgoing number presented to people you call in the ordinary course of events.
While I remain doubtful as to whether it was a good idea to oblige ITSPs to offer this service, I agree with 44D that they now must do their best to make it work at a technical level, so that at least it correctly passes over the information that the user has recorded, however unhelpful that may be in reality.
As always, there will be many links in the chain. It doesn't necessarily follow that the right information isn't being sent. It will also have to be correctly picked up & displayed by the emergency services systems & it's a new source of information for them too. In 44D's case, it does sound as if this wasn't happening originally. I'm less certain where the current failure is happening.
itsme
Grafter
Posts: 5,924
Thanks: 1
Registered: 07-04-2007

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

Quote from: fourfourdevon
Routing is supposed to be done by the database.  Why on earth is the option to add an emergency address there is this is not the case?  Perhaps VoIP providers just provide it to wind up, annoy and endanger their customers?  Certainly if routing is by code, that would be the only reason to offer and urge customers to fill in their address.

What number are you using in the database, the normal VoIP number or your normal landline number? The system allow you to change it as Simon M has stated.
The following warning is given if changed.
Quote
If you choose to allocate a number, we strongly recommend that you choose the correct area code for the associated address to avoid any confusion when the 999/112 operators are handling your call.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,101
Registered: 10-09-2010

Re: VOIP 999 address errors

Plusnet have advised me the fault is as before, i.e. there is something "wrong" with my address and it cannot be processed.  Last update was that there was still a "spurious" character in the address, however the agent looking into the case confirmed that as far as he was concerned there was nothing wrong with the address as far as he could personally tell, which is the same for me, it looks fine to me.