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Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services and 9-1-1 calls

  What is VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services can be used from virtually any Internet connection anywhere. These services don't use traditional landline phone networks, but instead use Internet Protocol addresses which have no location data associated with calls. This creates challenges for emergency services in determining the location from which a 9-1-1 emergency call has originated.


We want to make sure you are aware of important differences in the way 9-1-1 service operates with a VoIP phone compared to traditional telephone service:

Differences between traditional 9-1-1 service and VoIP phone 9-1-1

  • With traditional phone services, your 9-1-1 call is sent directly to the emergency response centre for your area along with your location information.
  • With VoIP phone service, your 9-1-1 call may be forwarded to a third-party service provider that will automatically or manually route your call to the emergency response centre.


Remember to provide your location

Because you can move your VoIP phone between locations and because, for technical reasons, the emergency operator may not have your name, location or contact information available, you must immediately inform the emergency operator of your location and contact particulars any time you call 9-1-1.
Do not risk sending police, fire or ambulance services to the wrong location.

Do not disconnect

Until you are told to do so by an emergency call taker, do not disconnect your 9-1-1 call. If you are inadvertently disconnected, call back immediately.


Be prepared during any service interruption

VoIP phone service depends not only on your continued subscription (and payment) for the service, but also on Internet connectivity and power to function. In the event of power, network, or Internet outages, or if your service is disconnected or suspended due to non-payment, you may experience a failure, disruption or delay in your 9-1-1 service. We recommend that you keep an alternative phone service (such as a cellular telephone) handy to increase the reliability of your access to emergency services during any service interruption.

Keep your service address up to date

Ensure that your address information on file with your provider is always accurate and updated. If you do not do this (for example, if you are unable to speak during a 9-1-1 call), the emergency operator may assume that you are calling from the last registered address, which could be outdated.

Inform other users

Notify members of your household and other potential users of your VoIP phone service of the nature and limitations of 9-1-1 emergency calls.

VoIP phone services in Canada are regulated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Click here for information on CRTC regulations regarding the obligations of VoIP service providers.