E911 Compliance FAQs

General Information

  1. What is Wireless Enhanced 911?

    Our mobile network routes 911 calls to designated emergency call takers, often local or county police, fire and rescue departments, known as Public Safety Answering Points or PSAPs. We also provide PSAPs with what's known as Enhanced 911 or E911 service where PSAPs have upgraded their equipment. E911 automatically provides call takers with the mobile phone number, cell site and sector, and the estimated latitude and longitude location of the 911 caller if the PSAP is capable of receiving it.

    In select areas within our coverage area, you can also send a Verizon Wireless text message to 911, but you're encouraged to make a voice call if able.

  2. What happens when I call 911 using my mobile phone?

    Calls to 911 are routed and answered according to guidelines set by local public safety officials in your area. For example, some Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) answer emergency calls centrally for their entire state, others for their county or town. Most transfer calls or dispatch a responder nearest to the emergency. 911 calls should only be used for true emergencies, and prank 911 calls using our service may result in service termination.

    We provide enhanced location information to emergency call takers but can't guarantee your precise location. Mobile phones are affected by the environment. Factors such as the weather, terrain and buildings may affect service and the ability to calculate the caller's location, particularly for 911 calls placed indoors. In some places emergency call takers still rely only on the caller's descriptions to locate and dispatch help to people in emergency situations. You should always tell the emergency call taker your location if possible.

    Our phones are designed to remain in emergency mode for approximately 5 minutes once 911 has been called to give public safety responders a better chance to call you back if the original call becomes disconnected. Although it varies by phone model, emergency mode can generally be exited before 5 minutes are up by pressing the End button twice or simply by making a non-emergency call.

    Do Not Let Your Children Play With Old Cell Phones. Because old cell phones are still able to call 9-1-1 even if they are not active with a wireless carrier, they should never be used as toys. 

    Notes:

    • If you use a third-party app you downloaded to call 911 rather than the native app included with your phone, your call may not be completed.

    • If you have Usage Controls, you may need to reset them after calling 911.

    • Use of certain features like call forwarding can affect a PSAP's ability to call you back if the call is disconnected.
  3. How do I send a text message to 911 using my mobile phone?

    If you're in an area that supports text messages to 911, you can send a new message addressed to "911" and enter your message. Information such as the problem and your location are important to include in your message. Also, when sending an emergency text message, don't include other recipients or attachments (i.e., photos, emoticons and videos).

    Notes:

    • Sending a text message to 911 isn't part of the Enhanced 911 (E911) service that's available for voice 911 calls, so it won't automatically provide your location to the emergency call taker. If you send a text message to 911 in an area that doesn't support text to 911 service, you'll receive a message back indicating that your message to 911 wasn't received and a call should be made.

    • If you use a third-party app you downloaded to send a text message, it may not be received.
  4. Where is E911 available?

    Our voice Enhanced 911 service works only where Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) have upgraded their equipment and systems to be able to read and use the Enhanced 911 location data.

    If interested, you can contact the local or state elected officials or law enforcement department to find out if the PSAP serving your area has updated its systems to use the wireless Enhanced 911 information or when wireless E911 service will be available in your area. Only call 911 in case of emergency and not to find out if E911 is available in your area.

  5. What is a GPS-capable phone, and why is it important for Wireless Enhanced 911?

    We provide E911 location technology built into our phones. Currently, our network assists GPS-capable phones to use signals from the Federal Government's Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to help estimate your location when you make a 911 voice call. Our location technology provides the most accurate mobile wireless location capability over varied terrain and is generally capable of estimating locations within 50 to 150 meters depending on the environment in which the 911 call is placed. Location information for 911 calls placed indoors may not be as accurate in some cases, but we are working on new technologies to address that.

  6. My phone says GPS. What does that mean? Can other people or government agencies see where I'm located?

    All new phones sold since December 31, 2003 are GPS-capable, which means there's a chipset in the phone that will help provide location information to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) when someone calls 911. The phone is not a stand-alone GPS device. It doesn't support or initiate any kind of individual tracking capability. The location-determining capability becomes functional only after calling 911 when the network is prompted to determine the phone's location using our network and the GPS technology.

    Note: If you agree to use a separate commercial location-based app, Verizon Wireless or the app provider may have access to your location information. Our use of such information is governed by our Privacy Policy and any additional privacy notices for location-aware services.

  7. Can I make a 911 call over Wi-Fi?

    We plan to support Wi-Fi voice calling in the future. For now, if you use a third party's downloaded app for Wi-Fi Calling it may not allow 911 calls, or may require you to register a street address to route the 911 call and provide the emergency call taker with your location. You'll need to review a third party's policies to determine whether or how it provides 911 calling and E911 service.

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