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Dialing 911 if cloud based phone system goes down

Hey guys, some of you may have seen my post the other day about moving to a cloud based phone system from a Cisco on prem system.

I was wondering how do you handle doing things like dialing 911 if your system or ISP is down? We are running SDWAN with multiple connections so that should never happen but what if.

31 comments
68% Upvoted
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level 1

We put in a dsl /pots line/fax/fire alarm line. We have spare analog phone on a shelf. The dsl is nice for testing our vpn etc from outside the network

level 2

same ... in fact some states require a fire alarm and elevator to be on pots lines

level 1
17 points · 8 days ago

A site may need several backup POTS lines for security alarms, fire alarms, elevator call buttons, a backup phone for 911 service, etc. Modern telephony and cloud based services are nice, but the old analog phone system will be around for a long time.

level 1

Nothing, unless you have an on site contingency (phone with direct registration to carrier, a gateway with an analog line, etc.). And even then, there's nothing you can do if the carrier goes down. For practicality, it's mostly a non issue unless the company does a lot of 911 calls (like medical offices).

level 1

Best to have an emergency phone in each building connected to a pots line. Mobile phones don't work in every building and network extenders won't work if ISP is offline.

level 1

I mean if your system is down it's down, how's would you get a 911 call out if the pri servicing your internal PBX got cut? Pick up a cell phone and let apgs take care of things. Or, keep a pots line at every site and have it do double duty to service faxing. Essentially, instead of adding redundancy in core infrastructure as you would with on premium, you add it in secondary services.

level 1
16 points · 8 days ago

Mobile phone ?

level 2
7 points · 8 days ago

Oh man, THANK YOU. Everyone from 6th grade kids to the CEO has a damn phone in their pocket. OH MY GOD WHAT IF THE INTERNET AND THE POT LINES ARE DOWN?!??! WE'D BETTER GET SOME PIGEONS!!!

level 3

Unless you're like my network, in a location that's 40 miles and two ridge lines from the nearest cell tower. In my case, emergency backup is an Iridium phone.

level 3
2 points · 7 days ago · edited 7 days ago

In many cases you are legally required to provide reliable 911 dialing. When someone dies because they can't dial 911 from a phone, "but everyone has a cell phone!" isn't a very good legal defense.

A few years ago, someone died in a Texas hotel because the girl dialing 911 didn't realize that she had to dial an extra "9" for an outside line. Now there is a law on the books requiring that companies make any reasonable effort to ensure that 911 works without a prefix. Apparently the cell phone defense didn't work there either.

level 4
2 points · 7 days ago

Absoloutely tragic story, I can't imagine how that child felt, trying deperately to get help for her dying mother but being unable to do so.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-texas-hotel/texas-hotel-death-sparks-petition-for-in-room-911-dial-through-idUSBREA0913K20140110

level 5
[deleted]
1 point · 7 days ago

[removed]

level 6
1 point · 7 days ago

Bad Bot.

level 1
4 points · 8 days ago
level 1
  • With a number of systems you can have an on prem fallback gateway

  • On prem emergency phone that is separate

  • Nearly everyone has a cellphone and will likely use that anyway instead of running to find a physical phone.

level 1

I really don’t believe in the whole “there should be one POTS line in every office for emergencies” thing. Where’s the backup telegraph in case the POTS is down?? Technology eventually retires... POTS should be retired, completely, from the world. VOIP is reliabile enough for 911, it’s called having redundant connections to the outside world and highly available clusters for call processing servers.

level 2
3 points · 7 days ago

It doesn't have to be a POTS line, but it should be a redundant system. It's normally cheaper to drop in a few POTS lines than it is to deploy a parallel VoIP system, but more dangerous because you can't tell when a POTS line dies unless you test them on a regular basis (fire and security panels run their own tests on a daily basis). At least with PRIs or SIP you can tell when the circuit is down immediately.

level 2

It’s called when the power goes out, your voip goes down. That’s why they’ll never, ever be as reliable as POTS no matter what. There’s no argument you can make against that.

level 3
3 points · 7 days ago

It’s called when the power goes out, your voip goes down.

Only if it's poorly designed and you're running without backup power. I know of at least one PSAP for a major city that runs on VoIP, several college police departments that do as well, and the US military uses VoIP for a majority of their communications.

People don't think about backup power with POTS lines because the power is provided from the telco central office, so the phones still work when the power is out in the building. If you deploy your own VoIP system without considering this then you're just setting yourself up for failure.

That’s why they’ll never, ever be as reliable as POTS no matter what.

VoIP can be more reliable than POTS if designed and deployed properly. VoIP has far more flexibility regrading failover for inbound and outbound calling. Most of your POTS lines that you order now are really VoIP circuits with a router on the end that provides dial tone or PRI service.

There’s no argument you can make against that.

Learn how to enterprise VoIP before you talk trash about it.

level 1
2 points · 8 days ago

if somehow nobody has a cell phone you could just get a cheap cell phone with no service and those can still dial 911?

level 1

This is a great question. The only reason I'm still running CUCM on-prem is that our insurance company requires a phone in every office and a certain number in public areas, and all have to be able to call 911 at all times, so I'm running ancient 2800-series routers to do SRST. Would love to get into this century with my phones.

level 1

Have you ever seen "The IT Crowd"? Do what they do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EBfxjSFAxQ

level 1
-7 points · 8 days ago(1 child)
level 2

I laughed, FWIW.

level 1
-9 points · 8 days ago(0 children)
level 2

This won't fly when the lawyers are on the phone asking why the phone system was down and an ambulance was delayed (or worse). Making sure life safety kit is in working order is a very important part of our jobs and needs very special considerations.

level 3
-2 points · 8 days ago

It actually works really well. And even the HR and management signed off on it.

level 4

Did HR run it by legal? Because if a phone system is in place, there is an expectation that phone system will be available in the event of an emergency. This sounds like a wrongful death lawsuit just waiting to happen.

level 2
10 points · 8 days ago

Eh, I am alone on my floor of the building every evening and don't own a cell phone. Not everyone has one.

level 3
4 points · 8 days ago

How do you not own a cell phone? Impoverished farmers in rural countries have cell phones. Hell, the government in the USA literally will give you a cell phone.

I mean, even just buying a 20$ burner cell phone with no service lets you dial 911

level 4

The radiation gives him headaches

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