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Old 21-03-2007, 18:27
Richardcoulter
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I have a friend who sometimes goes to places (it often happens in a local pub) and his mobile comes up with 'Emergency calls only'. It's nothing to do with him having no credit or anything, it seems to be places it finds it difficult to get a signal.....but, if it has a signal for emergency calls, why not for any call one wishes to make? Does anyone know why this happens, cheers.
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Old 21-03-2007, 18:34
S-max
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There will be a signal but on different network. All networks allow mobile phones to make emergency calls only but no standard calls if the phone is on a different network.
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Old 21-03-2007, 20:30
Finglonga
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My house has a couple of places where the mobile can't get a signal and it does that. Everywhere else is full signal.

On O2 BTW.
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Old 21-03-2007, 21:28
Richardcoulter
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My friend on T-Mobile. Thanks for the replies, it seems like it must be the case that he can't get a T-Mobile signal, but one of the other mobile companies is letting him use their network in the case of emergencies only.
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Old 22-03-2007, 14:31
Swampie
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Originally Posted by S-max
There will be a signal but on different network. All networks allow mobile phones to make emergency calls only but no standard calls if the phone is on a different network.
This isn't quite correct.

Whilst the GSM spec allows for network locked phones to roam onto other networks for emergency calls, the UK networks do not allow it - they have no GSM roaming agreements between UK networks - so if you're out of coverage from your provider, you cannot roam onto another UK network to make calls, emergency or otherwise.

Again, whilst the GSM spec allows handsets to make emergency calls without a SIM, UK networks do not allow it.

The simple story is that to make an emergency call in the UK you require:

a.) An enabled and active SIM from network 'X'
b.) A handset which can normally make calls on network 'X' (ie. isn't locked out from that network)
c.) Network coverage from network 'X' at current location.

If any of those requirements aren't met, then you cannot make an emergency call (or a normal call either). Again, the GSM spec does allow this to happen without any or all of these, but the network can decide whether they want to allow it, and in the UK, they haven't.

The handset may think it can make emergency calls (ie. "Emergency calls only" but when the user would try to make that call, they wouldn't be successful (in the UK).
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Old 22-03-2007, 17:21
macpo3
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This post is specifically about the handling of Emergency Calls in the UK Mobile Networks. Please don't follow up with posts about how it works in other countries.

In the UK, the mobile networks will not accept off-network emergency calls from subscribers homed on other UK networks, and they will not accept no-sim emergency calls.

So, although the GSM phone standard states that phones should be capable of making off-net and no-sim emergency calls, it is not possible to make such calls in the UK.

Subscribers homed on foreign networks and roaming on a UK network can make emergency calls by dialling either 112 or 999 on the network they have roamed on to.

Denis McMahon
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Old 24-03-2007, 10:17
Fiyero
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Thats interesting. i always thought the phone saying "emergency calls only" meant you could make 999 / 112 calls. Good job i have never needed to.
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Old 24-03-2007, 12:02
RYPW
 
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Originally Posted by turquoisefish
Thats interesting. i always thought the phone saying "emergency calls only" meant you could make 999 / 112 calls. Good job i have never needed to.
It does so long as the phone has a sim card in it.
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Old 24-03-2007, 12:27
Fiyero
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Originally Posted by ryanwilliams479
It does so long as the phone has a sim card in it.
Originally Posted by Swampie
the UK networks do not allow it - they have no GSM roaming agreements between UK networks - so if you're out of coverage from your provider, you cannot roam onto another UK network to make calls, emergency or otherwise
OK Now i'm even more confused. If i am using my phone on Vodafone (for example) and it has no coverage but other networks do so it says "Emergency calls only" can i make a 999 call? (presuming I am in the UK)
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Old 24-03-2007, 13:30
RYPW
 
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Originally Posted by turquoisefish
OK Now i'm even more confused. If i am using my phone on Vodafone (for example) and it has no coverage but other networks do so it says "Emergency calls only" can i make a 999 call? (presuming I am in the UK)
Yes you can make a 999 pr 112 call thats what 'emergancy calls only' means. No good if you set yourself on fire and can only call the AA
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Old 24-03-2007, 16:12
flackers
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Originally Posted by ryanwilliams479
Yes you can make a 999 pr 112 call thats what 'emergancy calls only' means. No good if you set yourself on fire and can only call the AA
Ryan, have you read any of the above.

You cannot.
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Old 26-03-2007, 16:28
japitts
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Originally Posted by ryanwilliams479
Yes you can make a 999 pr 112 call thats what 'emergancy calls only' means. No good if you set yourself on fire and can only call the AA
Ryan,

Please re-read the posts from Macpo3 & Swampie, both of which are correct. If you are a UK mobile customer and have no coverage somewhere within the UK on your own network, you will NOT, repeat NOT, be able to make calls to any number - emergency or otherwise - irrespective of what your phone's display tells you.

One of these days someone will rely on the "advice" given bhy someone like yourself and it could cost them their life. Please stop spouting such rubbish. I'm sorry to sound harsh, but this is stuff that really is a matter of life and death, and I'm fed up to the back teeth with this urban myth.

Last edited by japitts : 26-03-2007 at 16:47.
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Old 26-03-2007, 17:14
Fiyero
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Originally Posted by japitts
One of these days someone will rely on the "advice" given bhy someone like yourself and it could cost them their life. Please stop spouting such rubbish. I'm sorry to sound harsh, but this is stuff that really is a matter of life and death, and I'm fed up to the back teeth with this urban myth.
I wouldn't call it an urban myth that i thought i could make emergency calls when my phone says emergency calls only. I know your reply wasn't aimed at me but I always thought you could (i know the spec allows for it, hence the message)
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Old 27-03-2007, 22:37
flackers
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Odd how different manufacturers display different messages. SOS only on certain handsets, Emergency calls only on my Ericsson. Nokia display's nothing, just a blank screen with no network - although it would attempt an emergency call if 999 or 112 was dialed, I presume on reading the above if there was no home network it would not make a connection.
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Old 18-05-2010, 14:41
thompson9100
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Within the last few months (Feb 2010 I believe) there is now an agreement that allows people in the UK to make emergency calls (999/112) even if they have no signal on their own network.

You do not need to manually roam or connect to another network, as the phone will automatically route the call to the strongest signal it can find, on any network, and allow the call to connect.

I believe the same will be true without a sim card in the phone, though I have not been told about this nor have I tested it. I work within the telecoms arena so know the above to be 100% true.

MODS - I've added this as this thread comes very high up on google searches related to emergency roaming.

Regards

Dan T
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Old 18-05-2010, 16:19
plymouthbloke1974
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Yep, from last week of February, IIRC.

Still can't call 112/999 without a sim card, but "Emergency Roaming" as it is called, is now available.

Did you know 911 also connects to the emergency services? Thanks to my 2 year old daughter, I do now!!
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Old 18-05-2010, 16:47
mbruce01
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About time. I used to think it was standard when my Blackberry would say SOS calls only. Like others have said, I'm glad I never had to use it.
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Old 18-05-2010, 17:29
prking
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The system has been in place for a while on a test basis (summer 2009?). Its good that this finally got implemented.
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Old 28-11-2010, 21:54
MalUK
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Just wondering, why would a phone switch between the network operator's name and "emergency calls only" over the course of an evening? Has it got something to do with the capacity of the locked network's tower? Like for example, I noticed that the "emergency calls only" message appears when I have been to music festivals, yet visiting that location on other parts of the year work as normal. Also, if it is capacity, do you think they prioritise contract customers? On all occasions the signal bar is full.
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Old 28-11-2010, 22:06
Thine Wonk
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Just wondering, why would a phone switch between the network operator's name and "emergency calls only" over the course of an evening? Has it got something to do with the capacity of the locked network's tower? Like for example, I noticed that the "emergency calls only" message appears when I have been to music festivals, yet visiting that location on other parts of the year work as normal. Also, if it is capacity, do you think they prioritise contract customers? On all occasions the signal bar is full.
It could be a faulty phone, it could be a faulty cell, it could be capacity, really it's going to be hard to tell exactly what's causing it.
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Old 28-11-2010, 22:31
TheBigM
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Just wondering, why would a phone switch between the network operator's name and "emergency calls only" over the course of an evening? Has it got something to do with the capacity of the locked network's tower? Like for example, I noticed that the "emergency calls only" message appears when I have been to music festivals, yet visiting that location on other parts of the year work as normal. Also, if it is capacity, do you think they prioritise contract customers? On all occasions the signal bar is full.
I would guess a saturated cell is going to look the same to a phone as no signal available - a guess but perhaps it's not handshaking properly or something.

Similar thing for during notting hill carnival when thousands of people are in one relatively small area. Can't call or text or anything.
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Old 29-11-2010, 10:02
japitts
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I would guess a saturated cell is going to look the same to a phone as no signal available - a guess but perhaps it's not handshaking properly or something.

Similar thing for during notting hill carnival when thousands of people are in one relatively small area. Can't call or text or anything.
On 3G it's quite possible that when a cell becomes busy, it "breathes" in and the coverage area decreases - this is known as "cell breathing". Consequently mobiles on the edge of this cell would drop off, and either fallback to 2G or another nearby 3G cell.

On 2G the exact opposite would happen. The phone still sees the 2G "broadcast" channel which isn't affected by loading. But as soon as you try to "do" anything -call, text, data call etc, then you would get congestion-related errors. Texts less likely, but calls and data traffic certainly.
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Old 18-06-2011, 07:44
Thine Wonk
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On 3G it's quite possible that when a cell becomes busy, it "breathes" in and the coverage area decreases - this is known as "cell breathing". Consequently mobiles on the edge of this cell would drop off, and either fallback to 2G or another nearby 3G cell.

.
The way I've read about it your phone reports back every few seconds on what cells it can see and at what signal strength, that data gets passed back to the network MCR.

The MCR knows which cells are over a predefined capacity, i.e 80% and then offloads those handsets to other cells, starting with the ones with the weakest signal on the home cell.

Hence the breathing, the signal from the cell never alters it's just connection logic that hands of phones that say they have alternative signal that means 3G can make better use of capacity.

It seems to breathe, but it's really just handling logic and shouldn't cause different coverage on different days, that's more likely to do with atmospherics and the difficulties of radio signals, especially ones so weak and on 3G frequencies.

It could be capacity where it has no choice but to drop, but that's the same for 2G and 3G, cell breathing shouldn't be a negative thing, it shouldn't in itself cause issues, it's an enhancement over what they did in the 2G standards.
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