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ITU To Choose Emergency Line For Mobiles: 911, or 112? 354

First time accepted submitter maijc writes "The International Telecommunication Union will determine the standard emergency phone numbers for new generations of mobile phones and other devices. AP reports that member states have agreed that either 911 or 112 should be designated as emergency phone numbers. 911 is currently used in North America, while 112 is standard across the EU and in many other countries worldwide."
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ITU To Choose Emergency Line For Mobiles: 911, or 112?

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  • Why not both? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:28AM (#42272383)

    I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services. It would be easy to do, and would make things a lot safer for visitors in either America or Europe who may only be familiar with one or the other.

    Easy peasy, and no argument needed.

    Of course, this is the U.N. we're talking about here, so OF COURSE there will be an argument. And it will no doubt break down fairly quickly into an old-resentment pissing contest between Europe and America, with both sides engaging in increasingly hyperbolic rhetoric and the end result being both sides telling the other to sod off. It will probably be considered a success if four additional numbers don't get proposed by countries who hate the West in general.

  • 112 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:44AM (#42272663)

    911 is currently used in North America, while 112 is standard across the EU and in many other countries worldwide.

    112 isn't just standard across the EU and many other countries, it's part of the GSM standard. Outside of America getting its own way, there's no good reason to pick anything other than that, it's practically a worldwide standard already.

  • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:48AM (#42272721)

    My phone is doing just that already. When I key in either '112' or '911' it displays 'emergency call' (just tried; of course without making the actual call). Interestingly '999' (the actual emergency call number here) is not recognised. Probably because I'm using a UK-origin Android version on my phone.

    Actually I wonder: why is there a number for emergency calls from mobiles? Why can't the mobile phone just tell the network "this is an emergency call, please put me through to the local emergency call centre". Then the phone can link one or more numbers to that. It is already so that if there is no SIM in the phone or you're out of reach of your network, as long as there is any network available you can use it for emergency calls.

  • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:49AM (#42272731)

    For two, most switches use the first digit being a "1" to denote the beginning of a long distance call.

    In the US perhaps, it's mostly 0 in Europe from what I've seen.

    Going with '112' breaks a perfectly good standard in a country that at least has a standard phone number format.

    Going with '911' breaks a perfectly good standard in multiple countries that already agreed on a standard phone number format.

    Ah well, [] right?

  • Re:Prior use (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:54AM (#42272837)

    Why can't it just stay the same as it is now? There's a reason for that, you know.

    If they try to enforce 112, the US will tell them to get bent. +1 is the North American regional prefix, and the US uses it directly as a country prefix.

    If they try to enforce 911, India has just as much right to do the same, since +9 is the mid-east regional prefix, and +91 is India's country prefix.

    Why must the ITU screw everything up? They're like King Fecas. Everything they touch turns to crap.

  • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover ( 150551 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @11:31AM (#42273481) Homepage Journal

    Using "1" as a trunk code in North America is almost meaningless these days. Digital switches route calls based on all the digits, they no longer have to be directed to find a trunk line before passing the rest of the digits through. I wouldn't be overly surprised if there are still a few local exchanges in the remote corners of America that still use electromechanical relays or really old ESS switches that need the "1" prefix for accessing a trunk line, but most networks can and will simply route any ten digit number to the correct destination without complaint.

    "Dial '1' for long distance" these days is little more than a 'courtesy' reminder to people that "we will charge you extra money for this call because we've convinced Congress and the FCC that long distance calls still cost us extra money." In reality, those charges represent exactly the reasons that most people abandon their PSTN carriers and switch to digital phone carriers. I'd still be using the traditional wires (and paying the traditional phone company) if my local carrier hadn't stuck an unwanted "long distance access fee" on my bill after I discontinued long distance service.

    Regarding "standards to reduce confusion", there are three standards for emergencies: 911, 112, and 000, and they all depend on where you came from and what you learned. If implementing them costs nothing, and there are no collisions in the network, supporting them all reduces confusion during emergencies - the one thing in an emergency situation that you don't want.

  • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @04:32PM (#42278989)

    Unfortunately, the US attitude always seems to be to disagree with any international standardisation process rather than reach a compromise

    Phone networks originated in the U.S. If the international standard differs from and is incompatible with that of the U.S., you need to be asking why it differs. Not why the U.S. had the temerity to keep its existing system, instead of uprooting it and replacing it wholesale it to comply with a different standard.

    That's not to say the standard is illegitimate - maybe the U.S. system was stupidly designed and not conducive to expansion across the globe, in which case it would be perfectly justified. But your assumption should be that the first system was the standard. And if a different standard was chosen elsewhere, you should be questioning that decision first. Not immediately criticizing the first system developed for not changing to adopt the new standard.

  • Re:Prior use (Score:3, Insightful)

    by remus.cursaru ( 1423703 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @05:20PM (#42279837)

    It was implemented. In the UK at least if you call an emergency number when you have a weak signal it will dramatically improve for the duration of the call as the cell tower reconfigures itself to use up to its maximum power and, as you say, drops any other call that was interfering with the call placed by your handset.

    Link please! I think you're confusing this with the phone/sim* ability to use ANY available network (not only you provider's network) for an emergency call. This [] can be used as a starting point for further documentation. *in some countries you can dial the emergency number even if you don't have a sim card in your phone.

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