Do you use Verizon Wireless? If you do, you might not want to upgrade your phone any time soon. It seems that all new cell phones sold by Verizon make a loud, obnoxious alarm sound when you dial 911. Imagine this: you’re home alone one night, and suddenly you hear what sounds like someone trying to break in. A few moments later, you hear what sounds like someone walking around downstairs. You reach for the cell phone on your nightstand… press 9-1-1-SEND and suddenly your phone goes
This all came to light recently thanks to a woman in Austin, Texas named Carol (she refused to use her last name in the news story). Carol owns some land in Austin, and decided to check on it one day. When she arrived, she saw signs of vandalism. Fearing that the vandals might still be in the area, she reached for her new Verizon G’zOne phone, dialed 911 and… “WHOOP-WHOOP-WHOOP-WHOOP”.
The local media jumped on the story (read all about it here; watch the video on that page to hear the actual sound the phone makes when you dial 911). Verizon admitted that all of their new phones make an alarm when 911 is dialed. In fact, Verizon blamed an FCC regulation called “Section 255 of the Telecommunications Code” for the alarm. The FCC has said that that regulation – which requires cellular providers to offer phones that notify the customer when dialing 911 – does not require an audible alarm. In fact, an FCC spokerperson said that “[t]he Commission has not implemented any rules pursuant to Section 255 that would require the use of any tones concerning 911 calls”.
No more news has come of this yet. As of “press time”, all new Verizon phones still make that alarm sound, and the end user still cannot disable the alarm. I’m guessing that Verizon will push out a firmware update the will make the alarm optional… but that’s just a guess. I’ll keep up with this story and let you know what the dealio is…