The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that 70 percent of 911 calls are placed using wireless phones, like smartphones or cell phones. However, because these devices aren't associated with a fixed location or address, emergency dispatchers and first responders have, historically, had to rely on the cell site closest to the 911 caller in order to "guestimate" the caller's location.
That's why wireless providers, like Sprint, are working with the FCC to improve the system – and headway has been (and continues to be) made. In fact, now almost all carriers use Enhanced 911 services, which deliver more precise information to dispatchers, like the geographical coordinates of the mobile phone, and can help to mitigate (or eliminate) the guesswork used to pinpoint the response area. Unfortunately, some dispatch centers haven't yet received the technology necessary for them to use this data. So, when making a call to 911 from your iPhone, Android or other cellular device, be sure to tell the dispatcher the location and nature of your emergency right away. Then, tell them your phone number so that they can call you back if you get disconnected.
Calling 911 from a Cell Phone with Accessibility Features
In order to help you reach first responders when you need them most, Sprint complies with all FCC emergency call handling requirements to process 911 calls for TTY, CapTel, IP-Relay, and IP-CTS. At the beginning of your call, we may collect your name, location, and other identifying information at the in order to connect you to the most appropriate Emergency Services Provider or Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), however this personal information will not be used for any other purpose.
For details on making 911 calls through internet-based Telecommunications Relay Services (iTRS), read this FCC Advisory Page. Or, for required user information and steps to place 911 calls via Sprint Accessibility iTRS services, visit http://www.sprintrelay.com/911-calls.
Although calling 911 from a cell phone vs. a landline might leave you wondering how, or if, dispatchers know where you are – it's a question that the FCC and carriers, like Sprint, have been working on for years. And while the system isn't perfect – because no system is – as long as your local dispatch center has the Enhanced 911 technology in place, dispatchers should be able to pinpoint your location effortlessly. This way, you can get the help you need, when you need it.