Here’s How… Using 411 and 911 Services with MagicJack

Charges for 911 and 411 Services

Unlike conventional phone companies, magicJack has begun charging its customers for emergency 911 service. Also unlike conventional phone companies, magicJack offers free 411 service (for businesses only).

MagicJack’s 411 Service is Convenient – and Free!

Man holding phone, looking lostUntil the mid 1980’s, 411 phone service was freely offered by most of the major telephone companies, and phone books listing both residential phone numbers and business phone numbers were delivered for free. For the most part, those days are gone – the Bell consortium (traditional phone companies in the US)  now charges an average of $1.25 per call for directory assistance, while Canadian phone companies charge an average of $0.50 CAD per request for assistance. The service has become a significant source of revenue for phone companies, given that approximately 6 billion calls are made to 411 each year in the US alone.

Google offered a free 411 service from 2007 to 2010, but the service was designed to gather information a “voice search” system for cell phones, and was shut down once Google had enough information to make that system work reliably. Interestingly, Google’s mobile app for 411 service is still free.  For most home phone services, however, the days of free 411 service are long gone – until MagicJack began offering the service with a subscription to their VoIP phone system.

MagicJack ‘s 411 system can be accesses either by calling 411 from your magicJack phone, or by clicking on the 411 button on magicJack’s softphone window on your computer. Either will connect you to a human who will connect you to businesses in the location you specify. Unfortunately, the service does not provide information for people – it’s only set up to access business phone numbers.

Remember to Setup MagicJack’s 911 Service

Login to access this 911 address screenThe use of 911 as a standard for emergency calls was set up in 1968, but never anticipated the existence of mobile phones (or the widespread use of magicJack). The system was conceived to direct emergency services to the address associated with the phone number.

When you first setup magicJack, you should follow the directions given below. Some things you need to know:

  1. Canadian addresses require the use of Canadian numbers.
  2. US addresses require the use of US numbers
  3. MagicJack’s 911 service will not work with the magicJack app for iPod and iPad
  4. When you register your magicJack, the address given is used as the initial 911 response location.
  5. MagicJack will send you an email confirming your 911 service address. In addition, the 911 icon on the magicJack softphone window will turn green to indicate the system’s acceptance of the given location. A yellow icon indicates confirmation of the location is pending.
  6. Note that magicJack’s 911 service will not work if your internet connection is down or if your power has failed. You should consider having a cell phone handy in the event your magicJack is inoperative; if you live in an area prone to power failures, you want to install a battery backup.
  7. Recently, court filings in the United States have led to magicJack charging its customers for 911 service.

It’s important to note that the system is not automatic; it will not work without your participation. MagicJack provides additional information about the implementation of the 911 service online – refer to it occasionally to ensure nothing has changed in its usage.

Add new 911 addresses using this dropdown listIt is possible to change your 911 address when traveling. Click on the arrow next to the 911 address box, at the lower right corner of the softphone, then click on the “Add Address” in the dropdown menu to add the address of your hotel. If you’d prefer, you can click on the “No 911 Address” while traveling, since the system does not allow you to remove  addresses once they’ve been added.
 

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