VoIP and 911 Service

VoIP calls to 911 have unique restrictions of which callers should be aware.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) can be used from virtually any internet connection. Though VoIP provides definite benefits to users, It is not recommended that callers use VoIP for 911 calls unless there are no other alternatives. VoIP calling services have 911 capabilities that are different than those offered by traditional providers of location telephone services.

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General 911 VoIP Information

  • Calls from all University VoIP phone numbers will be directed to the University 911 call center.
  • VoIP service will not work during a power outage 
  • VoIP service will not work when the internet connection fails or becomes overloaded

VoIP Desk or Hard Phone

Specific information for University VoIP desk or hard phone users:

  • Users with a VoIP hard desk phone should not move their phone to another location without contacting the Voice and Data Network team of OIT, as location changes need to be updated for 911 purposes
  • Currently, VoIP calling services allow only your University service address to be associated with each telephone number.

VoIP Soft Phone

The information below is specific to University VOIP calls made from devices other than desk phones. VoIP calls from “soft phones” are made through the internet on other devices such as computers or tablets.

  • Soft phone calls are directed to the University 911 Center, not necessarily to the 911 call center for the caller’s actual location.
  • In order for the 911 center to dispatch services to the correct location, the caller must have stated their actual location to the operator.
  • If the call is dropped, the 911 center will be able to return the call if services are functioning normally.

Future State of VoIP Soft Phones

Future (summer of 2022) state of 911 calling from the University phone system using VOIP soft phones: 

  • Users of a University-provided new soft phone will be required at login to provide an accurate and acceptable address.
  • Users will be required to update location information when the soft phone system detects a new location.
  • When using a soft phone tool to call 911 from a smartphone, the call will default to the smartphone's location and cell service to make the call (if they are available).

General Tips for VoIP Service

When subscribing to VoIP service, users should: 

  • Promptly update address information with the VoIP service providers of the OIT Voice and Data Network team in the event of a location change.
  • Have a clear understanding of the unique behaviors of VoIP 911 calls. 
  • Inform visitors about your VoIP service and its behaviors with VoIP 911 calls.. 
  • If you have questions about whether the phone service you are receiving is aVoIP service, contact your service provider for further information. 
  • Be aware that 911 call centers currently lack the technical capability to receive photos and video. In addition, the ability to send text messages to 911 is only available in certain areas.

Life Safety Phone Criteria

Life Safety Phones are analog phones with an uninterrupted power source that are reserved for emergency calls only (fire, life, and safety).

  1. Required Life Safety Phone Locations
    1. The University of Minnesota is required to provide emergency telephones (fire, life and safety) in the following locations:  
      1. Campus Code Blue Phones
      2. Elevators
      3. Fire Control
      4. Security Desks
      5. Areas of Refuge
      6. Labs (including freezers) 


  1. Requests for Life Safety Phone Designation
    1. Any additional locations requesting assignment of a Life Safety Phone must meet one or more of the following criteria:
      1. Location is in high foot-traffic or residence areas that does not have adequate cellular coverage
      2. Location is considered to be at a “higher-than-normal risk” for likelihood of fire, life, or safety emergencies and does not already have an assigned Emergency Line (pools, gymnasiums, stairwells)
      3. Densely populated areas of campus that do not already have an Emergency Line assigned
    2. All designed Life Safety Phones must be tested every six months by the department to ensure proper operation


  1. Request Process
    1. Once you have confirmed that you meet the above criteria, please fill out the Voice and Data Request Form and specify that the request is for a 911 Emergency Phone Line