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February 25, 2005
Consumer Alert – Consumers Should Be Aware of VoIP Limitations

SEATTLE -- Several service providers in Washington are now offering Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service. This new service allows consumers access to voice services using their Internet Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connection, and no longer needs a dedicated telephone line to make phone calls. Many plans also provide long distance service at no charge.

The Attorney General Rob McKenna encourages consumers interested in purchasing VoIP phone service to consider the benefits and the limitations of this new technology. One major limitation to consider is whether or not VoIP phone service provides access to enhanced 9-1-1 services.

Enhanced 9-1-1 services can currently be accessed from any wireline or wireless phone. These services include routing 9-1-1 calls to the correct call center and displaying the caller's telephone number and location.

When VoIP customers place a 9-1-1 call, it may be routed to a call center other than the one nearest to them. Callers will need to be able to give the operator their call back number in case they are disconnected and their physical location for response, as this information will not be available to the 9-1-1 operator.

"It is important that consumers be informed about how relying on this service might impact their households in an emergency," said McKenna.

If you are considering Internet-based telephone service, you should ask whether the offer includes 9-1-1 service. If the provider claims to supply 9-1-1 service, ask whether 9-1-1 calls are routed to the traditional 9-1-1 network.

The Attorney General's Office urges consumers considering VoIP phone serve to read all the 9-1-1 information so they clearly understand the 9-1-1 capabilities of the VoIP service.


For more information contact:
Kristin Alexander, (206) 464-6432,


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