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Knox Co. 911 Reports Problems With "magicJack"

Galesburg, IL – The Knox County 911 center says it's having problems responding to some calls from within the county.

County 911 coordinator Vicki Miller says responders are unable to trace calls that come from "magicJack" devices, which allow users to make phone calls over the internet for less than two dollars a month.

Miller says the problem was first brought to light when a magicJack user called 911 a couple of years ago.

"Instead of arriving here in Knox County, where the call should have arrived, it was directed to Macoupin County," says Miller. "The street address and the town address did not correlate."

Miller says the parent company of the magicJack devices, YMax, is not subject to the same regulations as a regular telephone company. That means users are not required to register their service to their actual physical address. She says this is why a call made from Knox County was re-routed to Macoupin County.

Miller also says YMax does not require users to pay a 911 surcharge every month, as cellular and land-line providers do. That means customers whose only line of communication is through magicJack do not contribute to the upkeep required of the 911 system.

Knox County 911 responders were able to ascertain the caller's location through the phone conversation. But Miller says it's crucial to be able to trace the call themselves in case it's cut off for a vareity of reasons.

The problem prompted a public safety complaint to be filed against YMax last year. So far, nothing has come of the complaint.

YMax could not be reached for comment on this story.