The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-24-2011, 01:04 PM
Dingbang Dingbang is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Can an Iphone with no phone service call 911?

I got a new Iphone and I'm giving the old one, which now has no service but still acts as an Ipod, to my young son. Is it still capable of calling 911?

I know that cell phones are required to have 911 capability even if they are not contracted for phone service, but I just want to make sure there's not something about the Iphone that exempts it. It would be good to let my son (too young for a real cell phone) know that he could dial 911 with it.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 08-24-2011, 01:08 PM
cochrane cochrane is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Sure, as long as the SIM card is in it.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-24-2011, 02:47 PM
2square4u 2square4u is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
...and as long as the phone is within the range of a cell tower.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-24-2011, 03:06 PM
typoink typoink is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by cochrane View Post
Sure, as long as the SIM card is in it.
Unless this is a weird idiosyncracy of the iPhone, phones can dial 911 without a SIM.

The only, only thing that should prevent 911 is being out of tower range or having a non-working antenna in the device.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-24-2011, 03:21 PM
cochrane cochrane is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by typoink View Post
Unless this is a weird idiosyncracy of the iPhone, phones can dial 911 without a SIM.

The only, only thing that should prevent 911 is being out of tower range or having a non-working antenna in the device.
I was not aware of that. Thanks for the correction.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-24-2011, 03:33 PM
Roadfood Roadfood is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
This seems like a good place to mention that, if you don't have a young son/daughter to give your old cell phone to, another good idea is to give it to a Domestic Violence Shelter (or some similar organization), for exactly the reason cited here: People who are at risk in some way, but may not be able to afford a cell phone of their own, can benefit from being able to call 911 if needed.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-24-2011, 05:58 PM
Digital is the new Analog Digital is the new Analog is online now
Hashtags are Evil
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Mount Crumpit
Posts: 3,953
In the United States, cell phones can call 911 without a SIM card.
For that matter, I seem to recall that your land line allows 911 calls, even if you don't pay for regular service. This is a vague memory, and could be wrong.

In some other countries, a SIM card is required for emergency dialing.


-D/a
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-24-2011, 06:10 PM
obbn obbn is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital is the new Analog View Post
For that matter, I seem to recall that our land line allows 911 calls, even if you don't pay for regular service. This is a vague memory, and could be wrong.
This is true providing the home or building has had telephone service before. In order for the landline to provide a connection it has to be "cut through" to the central office. If your home is wired for phones, meaning you have phone jacks, it has to be connected to the central office for you to be able to make emergency calls.

This condition exist if there was service at the home at one time and it was disconnected. However, if the "pair" (the line to the central office) was used for another home's service then you would no longer have that ability. To check to see if that service is available, plug a set into your jack, pick it up. If it has dial tone and you haven't subscribed for service you will be able to make 911 calls and calls to the phone company iself to initiate service.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-25-2011, 08:51 AM
ftg ftg is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
We recently got rid or landline (and got VoIP). On the day of the switchover of our old number, the line went completely dead. No dial tone or anything. So no 911 service.

(I have since disconnected the line at the box so I can use the internal wiring for the new connection, so I can't check it again.)
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 08-25-2011, 10:26 AM
drastic_quench drastic_quench is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
It might still work. You don't absolutely need a dial tone. That's a movie myth. Try it. When 911 answers just tell them you were programming emergency speed dial and made a mistake.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 08-25-2011, 11:57 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 17,527
Quote:
Originally Posted by drastic_quench View Post
It might still work. You don't absolutely need a dial tone. That's a movie myth. Try it. When 911 answers just tell them you were programming emergency speed dial and made a mistake.
How are you going to pick up a working phone and NOT get a dial tone to test your theory?
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 08-25-2011, 02:27 PM
obbn obbn is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by drastic_quench View Post
It might still work. You don't absolutely need a dial tone. That's a movie myth. Try it. When 911 answers just tell them you were programming emergency speed dial and made a mistake.
I have never used an iPhone, but I don't know of any cell phones that give a dialtone prior to dialing.

If you are refering to land lines, you must have dial tone in order to call 911. Dial tone confirms that you are connected to the phone company's switch. Without dial tone, you have no ability to connect to anyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg View Post
We recently got rid or landline (and got VoIP). On the day of the switchover of our old number, the line went completely dead. No dial tone or anything. So no 911 service.

(I have since disconnected the line at the box so I can use the internal wiring for the new connection, so I can't check it again.)
When your line went dead at disconnect, more than likely the wire at the central office that connects your line to the central office switch was physically removed. This is usually done to free up the "port" on the switch for another customer. If OTOH there are many many free ports on the switch, the connection will be kept and dial tone will still be present. You will not be able to make any calls other than 911 as the port is restricted by computer entry.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 08-25-2011, 02:32 PM
hajario hajario is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Posts: 13,079
Quote:
Originally Posted by obbn View Post
I have never used an iPhone, but I don't know of any cell phones that give a dialtone prior to dialing.

If you are refering to land lines, you must have dial tone in order to call 911. Dial tone confirms that you are connected to the phone company's switch. Without dial tone, you have no ability to connect to anyone.
This is correct. You can use it to dial out too if you have a phone card of some sort that charges you for phone calls.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 08-25-2011, 02:54 PM
obbn obbn is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by obbn View Post
I have never used an iPhone, but I don't know of any cell phones that give a dialtone prior to dialing.

If you are refering to land lines, you must have dial tone in order to call 911. Dial tone confirms that you are connected to the phone company's switch. Without dial tone, you have no ability to connect to anyone.



When your line went dead at disconnect, more than likely the wire at the central office that connects your line to the central office switch was physically removed. This is usually done to free up the "port" on the switch for another customer. If OTOH there are many many free ports on the switch, the connection will be kept and dial tone will still be present. You will not be able to make any calls other than 911 as the port is restricted by computer entry.
Correction: Usually you will have the ability to dial the phone company to initiate service as well as 911. Usually by dialing 611 (at least in BellSouth's area)

Last edited by obbn; 08-25-2011 at 02:55 PM..
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:24 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.