Cell Phones

Cell Phone for Senior - 911 Limitations?

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 27th, 2016 3:44 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 27, 2009
1445 posts
557 upvotes
West GTA

Cell Phone for Senior - 911 Limitations?

I have a senior relative who recently sold his house and is moving into a high-rise apartment building.

He wants to ditch his POTS landline and just use a cell phone but our concern is with 911.
With landline 911 if he can't give the dispatcher his address they will know where he is located, not so with a cell.

I understand they can approximate his cell phone location with GPS and cell tower triangulation but how accurate is this?
Even if they could pinpoint his location I assume they wouldn't know what floor of the apartment building he was in.

Are these valid concerns?
9 replies
Deal Addict
Sep 30, 2004
1604 posts
175 upvotes
Ottawa
If it's a real cell phone, it should dispatch your home address should it not? (Even if you aren't at home)...
Member
Jan 13, 2002
476 posts
256 upvotes
Toronto
enko wrote: If it's a real cell phone, it should dispatch your home address should it not? (Even if you aren't at home)...
not in Canada it doesn't.
Deal Addict
Sep 24, 2013
1071 posts
777 upvotes
Ontario
RETD wrote: I have a senior relative who recently sold his house and is moving into a high-rise apartment building.

He wants to ditch his POTS landline and just use a cell phone but our concern is with 911.
With landline 911 if he can't give the dispatcher his address they will know where he is located, not so with a cell.

I understand they can approximate his cell phone location with GPS and cell tower triangulation but how accurate is this?
Even if they could pinpoint his location I assume they wouldn't know what floor of the apartment building he was in.

Are these valid concerns?
I have a Koodo Home Phone and I'm pretty sure it has an address associated with it, but don't take that as fact. Call them and ask. They have a great special right now until the end of the month.
https://www.koodomobile.com/wireless-ho ... _LearnMore.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Nov 9, 2014
576 posts
261 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
I would give him the opportunity of having a home phone and his cell phone just because he would be able to call 911.
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Deal Expert
User avatar
May 8, 2009
15417 posts
13857 upvotes
Going to the Moon
fredder wrote: Very valid concerns.

Get VoIP ATA, and subscribe for $1.95 US/month, including E911: http://www.callcentric.com/rate/plans/n ... ica_basic/
This is a ridiculous suggestion. Going VOIP is far worse than going cellular.

Granted, most reliable 911 service is via landline. However, with cellular, if the relative is unable to provide the address when dialing 911, emergency services is able to locate the caller through GPS and cellphone towers. It may not be as quick as through a landline, but I'll present two scenarios:
1. Landline option. Emergency arises, relative has to walk to a landline, dial 911. For whatever reason is unable to provide address over the phone, doesn't matter, just scream and emergency services will be at the door.
2. Cellphone option. Emergency arises, relative flips open cellphone from pocket (faster than reaching a landline), dials 911. Again can't provide address over the phone. Just scream (leave the call connected as long as possible), emergency services will locate the caller via cell network / GPS, and voilà, emergency services will be at the door (same delay as landline).

When you compare the two scenarios, the short amount of time you gain having the address located by calling from a landline, you lose by the inconvenience of walking over to a landline handset.

Anyone who suggests VOIP probably doesn't rely on emergency services. If you are unable to provide your physical address, it'll take emergency services a bit longer to locate you through your IP address (even worse if VOIP is running through a VPN tunnel). Although you can provide a VOIP service provider a 911 emergency service address, as VOIP is a more nomadic service than cellular, you're not doing yourself a favour. Emergency services would still have to double-check to see if you're calling from the VSP-provided 911 service address.
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