If you travel often, both inside your country or abroad, you are very likely to face roaming charges if you are to use your mobile phone. For most people and especially the generation who grew up and got used to the rapid technology evolution, mobile phones are symbiotic part of our lives. With the spread of smartphones, we are basically carrying out our laptops with us wherever we go. Now, we see a great shift in traffic types for mobile operators from call traffic to data traffic. Internet is the backbone that connects us to our loved ones, to our school, to our work. In this process, we will see a shift to voIP services even for mobile phones. The reason is simple, with data plans you can do anything and everything and pay a single price.
However, is VoIP technology and services are ready for such a shift? That is a big question that the industry has to sit back and think. The VoIP market is getting bigger and bigger and even the big search engine giant Google wants to be a part of it as it implemented call service to its widely used mail service, Gmail. Most people will think as we have broadband access in most areas and we are able to make calls using such applications, it won’t be a problem to switch to such services. Currently widely used services like Skype, do NOT work for emergency calls. There is just one thing, VoIP needs to solve its problem with the emergency call regulations.
There are few problems with VoIP related to emergency calls such as calling 911 in the States or calling 112 in Europe. One problem is rather technical, and it is the fact that when the power is down, your internet connection will be cut at your home. However, as we are thinking mostly for mobile devices, in most parts your mobile coverage is not that affected by a possible power outage. Backup power system can be a solution for your home VoIP phone or simply having enough charge in your smartphone will be sufficient if you are using it as your main VoIP phone in that case.
Another issue with emergency calls and VoIP is that, for example when you call 112, your location is also available to the authorities for cases like the caller is not even able to state his location. Now, how to handle this case with VoIP? I think that we can utilize location services of the mobile carriers as well as your mobile devices capacity such as GPS for such cases. We need to integrate the whole system in a more functional manner so that this information exchange can be utilized.
I think that, soon enough we will see more and more people considering this path and switching to VoIP services for replacing their legacy land phones and main mobile calling services. It is an important issue we need to think carefully and engineer smartly so that we can eradicate such problems from even occurring in the near future.
For more information about emergency calls and the philosophy behind having a widely used and recognized number, you can take a look at the European Emergency Number Association’s website and find out about it. We are becoming more global every day and it is important to address and solve such issues for improving the life quality of the whole society by enabling emergency help available at an acceptable rate.