E-911 When moving to VoIP?



  • I keep running in to challenges when moving customers to VoIP when you are using extensions instead of a dedicated line for each phone. My preference for moving someone to VoIP is to set them up with Skyetel and Vital PBX or use their in-house PBX. I will outline my challenges and then look for ideas and suggestions, including a service other than Skyetel.

    There are two main obstacles with VoIP and E-911. For the sake of certain arguments, let's assume the client is required to have complete E-911 address notification to the PSAP.

    The first obstacle is for multi-floor buildings and buildings over 7000 sq ft or multiple buildings at one address . You are required to identify the location of the phone inside the building.

    In the case of a 911 call, you would need a different phone number at the sip provider for each location in the building and/or for each geographically dispersed office.

    The second obstacle is when you have geographically dispersed offices.

    In both cases, you need to associate a phone with an address/location.

    In the case of Vital PBX you can create outgoing rules to change the outgoing Caller ID for any extension. You send this information to your SIP provider (Skyetel in my case).

    Once the call gets to the SIP provider (Skyetel in my case) the address get tagged to the outgoing phone number and then sent along to the recipient.

    This create two hardships. The first is the extra phone numbers needed, because you'll need a phone number for each address/location. As cheep as phone numbers are these days, it's not such a terrible problem.

    The second and more problematic, is how you differentiate between the 911 call and a regular call to any other party. The outbound caller ID will be that "other" number that is tagged to you address/location for E-911 purposes.

    With any Asterisk based product, this can be fixed with rules. But with other PBXes, you may not have this luxury of outbound rules.

    In the case of a legacy or non VoIP friendly PBX appliance, you have to send a unique phone number to your SIP provider for all outbound calls. You have to send the phone number that you have configured at your SIP provider with the location or address of the extension. Here's the rub, you want all outbound calls to any destination other than E-911 to be your companies published main telephone number.

    In the case of Skytel, they are unable to manipulate the outbound caller id based on who you are calling.

    The easy solution regarding E-911 would be for Skyetel to leave the outbound caller number as is when calling E-911, and modify it to be the "Main Line" if not E-911.

    Since this E-911 compliance under these scenarios are new to me, I am interested in what you do? please realize the solution you think is so easy or should have been implemented in advance, is unknown to me, so that is why I did not already do what you know to be the correct step.

    I am interested in learning, and figuering out what my options are for these scenarios.

    So, when you are required to be compliant with E-911, how are you sending the specific caller ID address without sending the unpublished phone number to non E-911 recipients?

    I can clarify if I make anything murky.....

    Thanks.



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    Since this E-911 compliance under these scenarios are new to me,

    How is this new? This is basic 911 and has not been changed for years.



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    The first is the extra phone numbers needed, because you'll need a phone number for each address/location.

    This is up to the carrier to update their side. The PSAPs can receive more than just a telephone number. But since POTS can only ever be a single thing, the VoIP carriers also built their systems with an address being tied to a DID.

    The PSAP system actually does not use just the Caller ID you send. All carriers actually have to register a Company Identifier (also termed CID, smart that..) with NENA (https://www.nena.org/). All calls the provider sends will have this identifier and whatever caller ID and address location sent with the call to 911.

    For example, here is @Skyetel's information.
    https://cid.nena.org/view.php?searchCID=SKYET



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    The second and more problematic, is how you differentiate between the 911 call and a regular call to any other party.

    You answered this yourself. You use routing rules to make things show the outbound CID that you want to be seen. This is not new, Even old legacy POTS systems had methods to send calls to different ports depending on what was dialed. The decision point differs with VoIP, but that is all. It is still the same process, just applied in a different spot of the call flow.



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    In the case of Skytel, they are unable to manipulate the outbound caller id based on who you are calling.
    The easy solution regarding E-911 would be for Skyetel to leave the outbound caller number as is when calling E-911, and modify it to be the "Main Line" if not E-911.

    Absolutely not. This is not the carrier's issue. This is your issue.

    You update the shit ass old hardware on premises to something modern, or you don't. It is as easy as that.

    I'm assuming you have a legacy piece of crap like a Definity G5, or random SMB key system with only POTS connections, and that you have connected some FXO adapter to it that is then connected to Skyetel.

    The answer here is buy an adapter that can be customized (never looked by the way) or instead of plugging it in to Skyetel, you plug it into Asterisk and let Asterisk do the magic.



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    This create two hardships. The first is the extra phone numbers needed, because you'll need a phone number for each address/location. As cheep as phone numbers are these days, it's not such a terrible problem.

    You do not.



  • @scottalanmiller said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    This create two hardships. The first is the extra phone numbers needed, because you'll need a phone number for each address/location. As cheep as phone numbers are these days, it's not such a terrible problem.

    You do not.

    With his mentioned provider, Skyetel, you currently need a unique DID (phone number) per location. They have no other method to convey 911 location data designed into their system.



  • @JaredBusch said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    Since this E-911 compliance under these scenarios are new to me,

    How is this new? This is basic 911 and has not been changed for years.

    Because you are blind. "new to me"



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JaredBusch said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    Since this E-911 compliance under these scenarios are new to me,

    How is this new? This is basic 911 and has not been changed for years.

    Because you are blind. "new to me"

    If you are "moving customers to VoIP" it should not be new to you.



  • @JaredBusch said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JaredBusch said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    Since this E-911 compliance under these scenarios are new to me,

    How is this new? This is basic 911 and has not been changed for years.

    Because you are blind. "new to me"

    If you are "moving customers to VoIP" it should not be new to you.

    Why?



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    how are you sending the specific caller ID address without sending the unpublished phone number to non E-911 recipients?

    @JaredBusch Try answering again with this question in mind.



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    how are you sending the specific caller ID address without sending the unpublished phone number to non E-911 recipients?

    @JaredBusch Try answering again with this question in mind.

    I did.



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JaredBusch said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JaredBusch said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    Since this E-911 compliance under these scenarios are new to me,

    How is this new? This is basic 911 and has not been changed for years.

    Because you are blind. "new to me"

    If you are "moving customers to VoIP" it should not be new to you.

    Why?

    Because it is phone service and 911 has been a part of phone service in the United states for decades. Before you ever thought about moving a customer, you should have educated yourself on 911.



  • @JaredBusch said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JaredBusch said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JaredBusch said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    Since this E-911 compliance under these scenarios are new to me,

    How is this new? This is basic 911 and has not been changed for years.

    Because you are blind. "new to me"

    If you are "moving customers to VoIP" it should not be new to you.

    Why?

    Because it is phone service and 911 has been a part of phone service in the United states for decades. Before you ever thought about moving a customer, you should have educated yourself on 911.

    That's what I am attempting to do right now. But you are making it really difficult.



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    I keep running in to challenges when moving customers to VoIP when you are using extensions instead of a dedicated line for each phone. My preference for moving someone to VoIP is to set them up with Skyetel and Vital PBX or use their in-house PBX. I will outline my challenges and then look for ideas and suggestions, including a service other than Skyetel.

    This implies familiarity with phones systems to me. If that is not the case, then it would not be the first time I read something and interpreted it different than the poster thought they wrote.



  • So to answer things for someone with zero telephony knowledge...

    1. When a user dials 911, they have to be able to do so without any special code (no dial 9 first), on any fixed location phone.
      1. As as sub to this, if your users are used to dialing a 9, add that pattern in addition to the non 9 pattern. It is not a law, it is just smart thinking.
    2. Every single state, and sometimes municipality can have different laws regarding 911.
      1. Federal is least restrictive with it getting more restrictive as layers are added. Very, very few locations have an exception to laws to be less compliant than federal or state law.
      2. This means you have to learn the details in every place you implement phone service. This can be as simple as a call to city hall and ask if there are any special ordinances regarding 911 beyond state law.
      3. State and federal, you just need to learn about.
    3. Currently, general 911 handling means you purchase a DID per location that you need to have identified. This handles both of your "obstacle" statements. Location is location.
      1. Yes it is not that simple, but for now, that is the easiest way to handle it.
      2. So yes, multi floor buildings, buildings over a certain size, and multi-campus locations will need multiple DID setup with 911 information.
      3. By next year it will need to be more detailed. But solutions should be coming out to handle it.
      4. So your "hardship" of the extra need for DID will go away, but it is what it is for now and there is nothing you can do about it. This is how 911 has always worked.Because prior to IP telephony a number only could be coming from one physical location (yes, there were exceptions, let's not get into the weeds).
    4. You differentiate between emergency calls and normal calls with outbound routing. Period. Nothing else to say. It does not matter if it is an antique Definity G5 or a brand new VitalPBX deployment.
      1. Your mention of non-voip friendly PBX is not relevant.
    5. Legacy POTS services cannot show a single outbound caller ID in the first place. so that little aside is moot. POTS only ever shows the number assigned to the pair. No matter how you route a call to that line. That is how POTS works. A PRI is not POTS and should be treated the same as VoIP services in so much as you can send any CID the provider lets you for each call.
    6. The case of Skyetel was already clarified but I'll say it again, no provider should be manipulating anything. This is something that is not their responsibility. There is no way in hell they are going to take on that liability on top of everything else they deal with. They will simply pass the call from one point to the next.
      1. Yes 911 requires some confirmation with the carrier. Because as noted in another post the carrier is the one that updates the NENA database that the PSAPs use. But beyond that there is nothing happening because they are simply a carrier. they are carrying the signal, nothing more.


  • @JasGot @JaredBusch

    Jared answered things pretty completely, but I wanted to quickly add my feelings.

    We've looked a lot at ways to make 911 cheaper for our users with larger facilities (we're pretty popular with School Districts, and carry the traffic for universities everyone in this forum would know - so we deal with this a lot).

    While there are ways where we could allow more than one address per phone number and allow you to change things dynamically (like with a SIP packet or a customer CID prefix), I don't have the confidence in NENA and a lot of the PSAPs to trust peoples lives with it. Additionally - even if I did, I still would strongly hesitate to allow more dynamic control of 911 simply because when you increase complexity of something you increase the error rate. Errors with 911 mean people die. A scenario where a misconfiguration sends emergency help to the wrong location without the caller or 911 operator knowing a mistake was made literally turns my stomach.

    Putting aside our own liability concerns, my philosophy (speaking as Skyetel's President :D) is that with 911 we have a duty to keep things as reliable and as simple as possible until the industry at large shifts away from DID/Address association and to GPS coordination (or something easy to use that has a low failure rate). The cost of 911 is annoyingly high (its even really expensive for us, and we do a lot of it) and I would love for this whole system to be replaced with something better. However, at the end of the day, I want your 911 calls to be delivered correctly, even if that costs everyone more money. We'll let others be innovative here first and follow the pack when the industry shifts.



  • Well that was a whole lot of grief just to find out: "You can't unless your PBX allows you to rewrite the outbound DID based on your rules. There are no alternatives."

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    So, when you are required to be compliant with E-911, how are you sending the specific caller ID address without sending the unpublished phone number to non E-911 recipients?



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    Well that was a whole lot of grief just to find out: "You can't unless your PBX allows you to rewrite the outbound DID based on your rules. There are no alternatives."

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    So, when you are required to be compliant with E-911, how are you sending the specific caller ID address without sending the unpublished phone number to non E-911 recipients?

    What PBX are you using? I guess I thought it was VitalPBX from the OP, but perhaps not?



  • @Dashrender said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    Well that was a whole lot of grief just to find out: "You can't unless your PBX allows you to rewrite the outbound DID based on your rules. There are no alternatives."

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    So, when you are required to be compliant with E-911, how are you sending the specific caller ID address without sending the unpublished phone number to non E-911 recipients?

    What PBX are you using? I guess I thought it was VitalPBX from the OP, but perhaps not?

    @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    My preference for moving someone to VoIP is to set them up with Skyetel and Vital PBX or use their in-house PBX.

    Nevermind - I see this now.

    yeah, in this case - if their old PBX doesn't support it - they will be required by law to get a new PBX.



  • @Dashrender said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    yeah, in this case - if their old PBX doesn't support it - they will be required by law to get a new PBX.

    Fortunately, the rules are pretty forgiving for a lot of businesses. (under 7,000sq ft).



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @Dashrender said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    yeah, in this case - if their old PBX doesn't support it - they will be required by law to get a new PBX.

    Fortunately, the rules are pretty forgiving for a lot of businesses. (under 7,000sq ft).

    And home offices.



  • @JasGot said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    @Dashrender said in E-911 When moving to VoIP?:

    yeah, in this case - if their old PBX doesn't support it - they will be required by law to get a new PBX.

    Fortunately, the rules are pretty forgiving for a lot of businesses. (under 7,000sq ft).

    I had to inquire about my office - we are 14,500 sqft, definitely have to split the building - at least there is a good dividing line here.

    Our other building has two floors, so I'll have to split them by floors.


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