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November 27, 2007

Yet another reason to hate Verizon

Another reason to hate Verizon.

I have to assume this is true, by the way, although every version of the story tracks back to a single alleged incident: "Verizon Phone Alerts Intruders You’re Calling 911"

Here's the story at one of the original links:

Carol, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of making herself or her land a target for vandals, called for help recently when she arrived at some vacant property she owns in east Austin and found her security chain gone.

She grabbed her new Casio G’zOne phone from Verizon Wireless, which to her horror made an audible alarm when she called 911.

Fearing vandals were still on the property, she hung up and hid, then put her hand over the earpiece and dialed again to muffle the sounds.

“I was afraid the criminals were down the driveway and they would hear and they would know somebody was doing something and they would come out to stop me,” she said.

The alarm is not ear-splitting, but it is loud enough to be heard at least several yards away.
Verizon puts this "feature" on all its new phones, claiming that it's required by the FCC. The FCC says, "No one here but us chickens." In other words, Verizon is smokin' something.

A tech blogger I ran across says this by way of explanation:
According to Verizon Wireless, the audible tone is required by the Federal Communications Commission. It's another "accessibility" feature that Congress mandated. This is in regards to Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act which requires telecommunications products and services to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Since, as I stated above, the cell phone has to alert the user they have dialed 911, this is the solution for blind people. The loud alert is designed to let blind people know they've dialed 911. But by making it loud, they've created a problem.

It's been confirmed on forums on cell phone-centric websites that this occurs on other cell phones as well, so it looks like the issue is going to become more prevalent. Although Section 255 states there has to be a cue, like most of these regulations, I don't believe it specifies exactly how that cue is given (readers, correct me if I'm wrong).
What I think is that Verizon should stop trying to provide crappy products and go back to what it does best -- its core competencies, or whatever the corporate jargon is -- namely, giving crappy service.