Skype pondering emergency call support?

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If you’re a Skype user, you probably already know this, or you should, because it’s all over their website: Skype cannot be used to make emergency calls. But a survey from Skype this week suggests this may be about to change. Amongst a (very long) series of questions about Skype use versus landline and mobile, were these two intriguing questions:

As you may know, Skype does not currently allow for emergency calls to UK 999 or EU 112. Of all means of communications that are usually available to you, how likely would you personally be to place an emergency call using Skype, if Skype introduced such a facility?

If Skype introduced a service which would allow you to use Skype to place emergency calls to UK 999 or EU 112, but which would also require all users to verify their address or location every time they log in to use Skype, how convenient would you personally consider such a service?

Last year, Ofcom, the telecommunications watchdog, will require VoIP operators to provide access to the emergency services’ number from September 2008. Ofcom’s research amongst VoIP telephony users found that as many as 78% either thought an emergency call was possible, or did not know whether or not this was the case.

Clearly, this situation needs resolution, though being required to verify my address or location every time I log into Skype is just a pain. To be perfectly honest, I am annoyed at having the convenience of my Skype account compromised by those who don’t bother to inform themselves about what the service is really for.

And do I really want to tell Skype every time I go away for the weekend? That seems to have enormous privacy issues, but apparently the alternative is just not logging into Skype at all when I’m away. As VoIP providers who only offer calls within their own users are exempt from these regulations, it would be nice to have this as an option on my Skype account: jump through the verification hoops when I’m at home, where I normally am, and turn off Skype In and Skype Out when I’m out with my Skypephone. Because then, I have mobile access to 999 anyway.

15 Responses

  1. Have to say confirming where I am when I log into Skype is a bit of a non starter! 😯

    Firstly it’s possible to be logged into multiple instances of Skype at any one time.

    Secondly when I log into Skype on my PC I invariably forget to log out and it stays on until I reboot the PC normally about twice a year. Then I log in on my laptop which I use most of the time, but I don’t log off and shut down most of the time, I just shut the lid, put it to sleep and open it up again when I want to use it. Several times in the last month that’s included using Skype on the train!

    Thirdly I also use Skype on my Sykpephone although of course like Sue I’m unlikely to use Skype for a 999 call on that.

    Thing is though with a possible three instances of Skype running which I flip freely between how will they ever know where I actually am, and if I’m using it whilst travelling giving an address as “on a train heading towards London” isn’t going to be particularly helpful

  2. I quite often try to be logged into Skype in three places at once, solely because I forget to lot out. I’m interested to see what they’ll do with that…

  3. Thinking about this further I guess it does make sense to a certain extent. Many people are using Skype handsets, linked to their Internet connection, in place of or in conjunction with land lines. If I’ve got a Skype handset in my hand in an emergency I guess it would be natural to dail 999 using it. It is an issue which needs addressing.

  4. Is this a fundamental flaw with Skype?

    I have been thinking about skype but have never fully understood what it is.

    Now this may be me being slow, but it is obvious it is not the same as a normal phone.

    This information seems to clarify that “belief”.

    So will I be changing to skype?

    Probably not, why would I want two phones – my mobile and the skype phone?

    Maybe I am missing the point and just not “understanding” skype?


  5. Hey Mark, Skype it primarily computer to computer. The “Skypephone” is a mobile which also has Internet access and Skype built in so you can make/receive calls/chat messages to Skype users on their computers (eg from eBay listings!) when you’re away from your computer.

    A skype handset at home or in the office is just more convenient… saves being tied to your computer with a headset or spearkers/microphone.

    To me it’s obvious it’s not a normal phone. But it’s also a great business tool, have closed loads of sales on eBay from people Skyping me πŸ˜€

  6. Mark, most of the point is the saving on call costs. You can call any other Skype user for free, and calls to landlines and mobiles are often significantly cheaper than the normal cost. For me, it also allows me to have a UK phone number when I’m in France.

    There’s also stuff like having it integrate with eBay, so it’s easier for your buyers to call you – not everyone wants that, of course, but some sellers like it.

  7. I can’t see the need for address verification in order to make emergency calls (or am I getting confused with the article?).

    Many people, myself included, have unregistered PAYG mobile phones quite capable of making emergency calls. Presumably these calls can be traced to an approximate location but no specific address or person.

  8. How good is the coverage around the UK for the Skype mobile phones?

    Say for instance, Philomena and I want to talk whilst I am auction, will I get 100% coverage with skype?

    How much would that cost?

    I did try to look on the skype site, but costs and comparisons are not easy to find.


  9. this middle on nowhere has great vodaphone and great o2 coverage,
    yet 3 is nowhere to be found

  10. If it helps I’ve used my Skypephone at work (v handly when the ADSL was down!) at home, in London, Birmingham, on the train from Reading to London, in the West Country and all over the home counties. Only times I lost the signal was on the A34 near Whitchurch in Hampshire and on the M1 when heading north in the sticks. Mind you I’m not bothered that much when I’m driving so that was no great loss πŸ™‚

  11. nokia n95 on vodaphone 40 quid a month ,unlimited mobile internet access ,750 minutes of voice with quality connection and 3000 texts
    I am afraid skype has no chance ever again with us

  12. But itÒ€ℒs also a great business tool, have closed loads of sales on eBay from people Skyping me πŸ˜€

    If someone called me, the *last* place I would close the sale would be on ebay!

    The first words out of my mouth would be, I’ll do you a discount if you buy directly.

  13. Hmm is that true Blighty…. then answer me this, would the discount you offer be larger or smaller than the Final Value Fees that you’d pay for an on-eBay transaction?

    You’ve already paid the listing fees, the loss of the Final Value Fees are normally a pittance compared to the sale price, I’d rather pay them than give an attractive discount πŸ˜€



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