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Old cell phone won't make 911 calls
Old 08-02-2008, 04:20 PM   #1
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Old cell phone won't make 911 calls

I carry an old deactivated Nokia 3560 cell phone in the car with me as a backup in case I need to make a 911 call and don't have my normal cell phone.

The other day I decided to try it out just to make sure it works. I happen to know from previous experience that the 911 system near me has a recorded message saying "If this isn't an emergency call hang up now", so it shouldn't be too rude of me to call and hang up quickly.

I was startled to find that it didn't work. I've tested the same phone a few more times on different days and different locations, and it definitely won't make 911 calls; it just says "Attempting emergency call" and no signal bars show.

It's an AT&T multiband digital phone (not analog) and I know AT&T digital service still works here since I use it with my activated cell phone. I did open it up looking for a SIM card and couldn't find one; I think this was from the days before SIM cards.

Anyway, just a heads up to anyone counting on an old cell phone for 911 service... you might not want to count on it. When I googled "911 deactivated" I mostly got lots of stories about how little kids accidentally call 911 from deactivated cell phones and how dispatchers don't like all the bogus calls from deactivated phones. And I saw a post about how some carriers are refusing to activate non-GPS phones because they won't work with e911.

I have another deactivated AT&T cell phone, and I verified that it does make 911 calls. It seems like the days of being able to count on free cell 911 service are coming to a close.
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Old 08-02-2008, 05:44 PM   #2
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The 3560 is an analog/tdma phone and its network was turned off a few months ago

Discontinuation of TDMA/Analog Service | AT&T Wireless Services, formerly Cingular

I have a couple of those. Gabe uses them to make emergency calls to the firestation
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:04 PM   #3
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Thanks, I had forgotten that AT&T had TDMA service before GSM. That helps me have more confidence in my deactivated GSM phones being able to call 911.
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:37 PM   #4
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I dont think you'll have any trouble with the GSM phones for quite some time. Reception might be spotty in some rural areas where there was very good analog coverage.

My dad was bummed when they turned off the tdma network. We were using an old at&t tdma phone with some goofball phone provider that allowed you to do something nutty like pay $8 for 20 minutes of time that were good for a year. Kept it in his glove compartment "just in case".
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