Whilst VoIP is certainly the future of telecoms and in most circumstances is far superior to the traditional telephony network, there are a few operational differences which are something that shouldn’t stop an upgrade to VoIP, but should certainly not be overlooked.
When a 999 call is made from a phone through the BT network the exact location is provided to the operator so hypothetically if the caller could not speak, the operator would still know exactly where they were. With VoIP as this is not location based the situation becomes slightly more difficult. A VoIP number simply comes from an IP address, and the number (e.g 0113 for Leeds) does not necessarily correspond in that you can now obtain numbers from any location and have calls made and received on this number through an internet connection. Similarly, if there are remote workers from a main office and these call out from their VoIP phone, depending on the programming it may present the main office number which could be in a completely different area of the country.
Another point to note is that a VoIP system or IP handsets will require power to the phones, either through a separate power supply or through a Power over Ethernet Switch. If there is a power cut, unless a UPS system is in place the phones will also go down and so this is something that should certainly be noted.
Mobile phones can be pinpointed to the nearest mast location but not to the exact phone location and so shouldn’t be relied upon, however as most companies have an internet connection which would require a traditional PSTN phone line, it would be recommended to get a standard analogue phone and simply plug this into the socket. By calling from this, emergency services would be able to pinpoint the location. On a corded handset, power is also supplied from the exchange and so in a power cut there would likely be no loss of service. This is why companies with a lift should always install a separate analogue line for this – in case there is no power and it breaks down.
So, whilst we hope that this is a situation that never arises, it is certainly not something which should be overlooked; and since most organisations have an analogue line already, it is highly recommended to get an analogue phone for the end of it, just in case it is ever needed in an emergency.
Feel free to get in touch if you are at all concerned about any points raised.