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Wi-Fi May Not Give Correct Location When Calling 911

CHICAGO (CBS) – With students going back to college, it is important they receive the help they need, including cases where students may need to call 911.

When making an emergency call on Wi-Fi, 911 systems use the emergency address on file when transferring one's call to a local dispatcher.

Sometimes the location is not correct.

When service providers cannot determine one's location from the data, for instance, when a person is using Wi-Fi, carriers use the emergency 911 (E-911) address listed. An E-911 address is on file, with the service provider, for each number. For groups on a family plan, this address may be listed the same for each line, even though not everyone on the plan may live in the same residence.

For example, if someone on the family plan lives in another location, or is away at college, and he/she calls 911 using Wi-Fi, the call will be routed to the 911 center near their listed emergency address, rather than the actual location.

Service may be delayed or unavailable if the carrier cannot locate an individual using Wi-Fi Calling at a location other than the E-911 address entered on the device, said AT&T Tech in a statement.

To keep everyone on the plan safe, carriers advise customers to list the best emergency address for each line.

"It is important to provide the address where you are most likely to use Wi-Fi Calling, which may be different from your home address," AT&T Tech said in a statement.

One can update the E-911 address at any time in the Wi-Fi Calling menu.

Cell phone carriers remind users to keep the E-911 address for Wi-Fi Calling up-to-date at all times.

Individuals may also turn off Wi-Fi Calling or make emergency calls using data.

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