Access to 9-1-1 services for Canadians with hearing or speech impairments through the use of text messaging will soon be possible where 9-1-1 services are currently available in Canada. When the Text with 9-1-1 service becomes available, a deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired person will need to pre-register for the service with their wireless service provider. Then, when the person requires 9-1-1 services in an area where Text with 9-1-1 service has been activated, they will be able to dial 9-1-1 on their cell phone and the 9-1-1 call taker will receive a notification that tells them to communicate with the caller via text messaging.
Telephone and wireless companies are required to have made the upgrades necessary to support Text with 9-1-1 service by January 2014. However, some 9-1-1 call centres require additional time to make changes in their systems to support the Text with 9-1-1 service. 9-1-1 call centres are operated by municipal and provincial governments.
Please visit the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Associations’ Text with 9-1-1 website regularly for updates on when Text with 9-1-1 service will become available in specific areas across Canada, as well as for information on when registration will start, how to register, and how to make Text with 9-1-1 calls.
Basic 9-1-1 service connects a 9-1-1 call to a call centre. The caller must identify his or her location to the 9-1-1 operator, who then connects the call to the emergency response centre serving that area.
Enhanced 9-1-1 service connects a 9-1-1 call to an emergency call centre and automatically provides the 9-1-1 operator with the phone number and address or location of the caller.
Either Basic or Enhanced 9-1-1 service is available to almost all subscribers in Canada. Most subscribers receive Enhanced 9-1-1 service, and Basic 9-1-1 is provided in parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yukon, where the 9-1-1 call centres have not been upgraded to receive Enhanced 9-1-1 information. Where 9-1-1 service in not available, such as in Nunavut and Northwest Territories, emergency services are contacted using a normal telephone number.
The 9-1-1 service you receive depends on the type of telephone service you use to make the call, and whether you are in an area that has either Enhanced or Basic 9-1-1 service:
With a traditional wireline service:
Wireless phones can be important safety tools, but because they are mobile, they aren’t associated with one fixed location or address. This mobility, however, makes it harder for both service providers and 9-1-1 operators to pinpoint the location of a 9-1-1 call.
There are two types of wireless emergency 9-1-1 services:
This type of wireless 9-1-1 service is provided in areas that receive Basic 9-1-1 service. When a wireless 9-1-1 call is made, the wireless carrier connects the emergency call to a 9-1-1 call centre that serves the area of the cellphone tower that the calling wireless handset is connected to.
This type of wireless 9-1-1 service is provided in areas that receive Enhanced 9-1-1 service. To improve the safety and security of Canadians, the CRTC required wireless carriers to upgrade their 9-1-1 services to provide an enhanced capability to identify the location of wireless 9-1-1 callers. This is particularly important in emergency situations where the caller is unable to speak or cannot identify his or her location. This improved location capability is enabled by two technologies:
Global Positioning System (GPS) or Triangulation Capability
With Enhanced 9-1-1, wireless carriers use Global Positioning System (GPS) or Triangulation technology to identify a 9-1-1 caller’s location (generally within 50 to 300 meters of the cellphone). The emergency call and the caller’s location are automatically transmitted to a 9-1-1 call centre serving that area.
Not all new cellphones have GPS capability. To get more information on a cellphone’s
9-1-1 service, check your manual or ask your wireless service provider.
GPS capability uses signals from satellites to determine a cellphone’s location.
If your cellphone does not have GPS capability, wireless carriers can also use triangulation technology, which locates the caller by measuring the cellphone signal’s distance from nearby cellphone towers.
The location information, as determined by either GPS or triangulation, will be provided to the 9-1-1 operator if you are using either a cellphone with pre-paid minutes or a wireless service plan. If you have a cellphone but are not subscribed to any service, you can still dial 9-1-1 in an emergency and get basic wireless 9-1-1 service.
Consumers who are thinking of changing or moving to a new local telephone service provider should ask the provider if it offers 9-1-1 service. If not, you may want to get service from a different service provider.
The type of VoIP service determines the type of 9-1-1 service available to emergency callers using VoIP services.
With Fixed VoIP service, calls can only be made from a fixed address. A Fixed VoIP service is normally provided over a private communication network (such as your cable service provider at home) instead of over the Internet. Fixed VoIP service provides Enhanced 9-1-1 service equivalent to that provided by traditional wireline service, except where Basic 9-1-1 is provided.
Nomadic VoIP service is provided over the Internet and lets callers access telephone services using any high-speed Internet connection from any location.
Nomadic VoIP service provides Basic 9-1-1 service because there is no fixed address to provide to 9-1-1 operators. The mobility of this service makes it very hard for both service providers and 9-1-1 operators to pinpoint the location of a 9-1-1 call.
One challenge with wireless technology is the increase in 9-1-1 calls made by mistake from cellphones in pockets and purses. These calls can delay help for other 9-1-1 callers in real emergencies.
To prevent accidentally dialling a 9-1-1 call:
If you dial 9-1-1 by mistake, stay on the line and tell the 9-1-1 operator that there is no emergency and that the call was unintentional.