Wireless 911

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Informational data is from NENA 911.

Wireless Statistics

In our increasingly wireless society, more and more of the mobile public is dialing 911 every day—about 86 million people were subscribers of wireless telephone service in 1999, and it's estimated that nearly 46,000 more Americans become wireless subscribers every day.

It is estimated that of the 150 million calls that were made to 911 in 2000, 45 million of them were made by wireless telephone users—that’s 30 percent. This is a ten-fold increase from nearly 4.3 million wireless 911 calls just 10 years ago, and the number will more than double to 100 million calls in the next five years. In 2007 63 percent of all 911 calls were from wireless phones. The majority of 911 calls now come from wireless callers.

What is Wireless 911?

In most areas of North America, most citizens have basic or enhanced 911 services from their landline, or wire line, phones in their homes or workplaces. Basic 911 means that when the three-digit number is dialed, a call taker/dispatcher in the local public safety answering point (PSAP), or 911 centers, answers the call. The emergency and its location are communicated by voice between the caller and the call taker. In areas serviced by Enhanced 911 (E911), the local 911 center has equipment and database information that allow the call taker to see the caller's phone number and address on a display. This lets them quickly dispatch emergency help, even if the caller is unable to communicate where they are or what the emergency is. Carmel 911 has Enhanced 911 service.

However, when 911 calls are made from wireless phones, the call may not be routed to the closest 911 center, and the call taker doesn't receive the callback phone number or the location of the caller. This presents life threatening problems due to lost response time, if callers are unable to speak or don't know where they are, or if they don't know their wireless phone callback number and the call is dropped.

Here are some helpful hints when dialing 911 from a wireless phone:

If you call 911 on a cell phone, your location may not automatically display, as it does when calling from most home/business phones.

Be Prepared to tell the 911 Call taker:

  • The location of the emergency - EVEN IN AN AREA THAT HAS LOCATION TECHNOLOGY
    (Address, street intersection, landmarks, city, county, mile marker, etc.)
  • Your cell phone number
  • What the emergency is and what type of assistance is needed


  • Stay calm and speak clearly!
  • Do not hang up until the 9-1-1 call-taker has obtained all of the information that is needed.
  • Since you are calling from a cell phone, your call may be disconnected if the signal is lost. Be sure to call back if you are cut off.
  • When calling 9-1-1 on a cellular phone, be sure to stop if you are in a moving vehicle. It is difficult to obtain all of the information needed if you are getting further from the emergency.
  • Your call may need to be transferred to another agency.