Dialing 911 using series 3 LTE without activating data (Works)

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by mac1281, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. mac1281 macrumors newbie

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    Apr 29, 2015
    #1
    I have the series 3 LTE and not planning to activate the data for now. Does anyone know if I can dial 911 in case of an emergency if I don't have data plan on the watch and it's not pair with the iPhone? Say if I go running with only the Apple Watch leaving the iPhone at home and I need to call 911 will it go through like a lot of smartphones do without data?
     
  2. mattdeezy macrumors member

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  3. mac1281 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 29, 2015
  4. lordofthereef macrumors G5

    lordofthereef

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    Nov 29, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #4
    Keep in mind that I asked this question from T-Mobile (my carrier) and they told me that it would work and that the esim tries to connect to the last carrier it was connected to.

    I’m taking this with a grain of salt since they’ve steered me wrong but they claim that’s how other watches work and therefore expect Apple to react similarly.

    In short, yes it should work but apparently only after it has been activated once.

    I have three months free but if I don’t love thenstreaming performance with Watch is 4.1 I plan to cut the service plan after the three months and test it. If I can make calls I’ll leave it off. If not I’ll likely re activate as thenoeace Of mind is worth it to me.

    Just got some jaybird run (OT I know) and love them. They’re what I wished the AirPods were. So assuming streaming does well, I’ll have a hard time dropping the data plan anyway.
     
  5. mac1281 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 29, 2015
    #5
    Thanks for checking. I'll probably test it the next time I'm on my running trail to test an emergency scenario. Keep in mind I never initially activate the LTE data so if it doesn't work that maybe the issue. I'll report back.

    I was also excited about the streaming element of this watch but with my initial test on a 30 min run it killed about 20% of my battery. I can't imagine how much more battery it will use with constant LTE streaming.
     
  6. lordofthereef macrumors G5

    lordofthereef

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    #6
    Were you tracking the run via gps and using the heartrate minotor? I ask because that seems to eat most of my battery during runs. I haven't tried music yet over my watch.
     
  7. mac1281 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    I was using everything except the data streaming; gps, heart rate monitor, and music stored on the watch.
     
  8. michaelb5000 macrumors regular

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    Sep 23, 2015
    #8
    I don't think we know if the watch can dial 911 without a plan. It is an important question though and it has been asked here before. FCC regulations require cell phone companies to pass through 911 calls, if the call is on a band they use, even if the phone is not activated. So one key question is would that call be handled any differently using the watch's eSim card. I would not expect 911 to be able to call you back (you would not have a number to call) and they may not get location data. Even if the watch has gps, it may not transmit that data through the e911 system (that would be my guess, but I don't know that).
     
  9. CaptMarvel macrumors 65816

    CaptMarvel

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    Sep 20, 2014
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #9
    Great inquiry.

    I recommend trying it or maybe just asking around at an Apple Store Genius Bar? If they still have those/if it’s still called that.
     
  10. Topher227 macrumors regular

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    Sep 18, 2012
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #10
    Any cell phone, whether activated or not, is supposed to (by law) have the ability to dial 911.
    Per the FCC: The FCC's basic 911 rules require wireless service providers to transmit all 911 calls to a PSAP, regardless of whether the caller subscribes to the provider's service or not.

    That statement alone says it all -- it should allow the call.

    But then it got me thinking... with VOIP/Cellular Wi-Fi Calling, you typically need to Opt In to these services, and provide an address for 911 calling... my understanding of that process is that you're providing the info to your carrier (VZ in my case -- it's a VZ branded site). I'm assuming that an unactivated watch owner didn't have to opt in and provide an e911 address -- and who would they provide it to, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile?

    Who's brave enough (and not in a major metro area, or Alaska -- where we'd need to set up a testing window) to try it with their unactivated LTE watch?

    Steps for the brave one (i would do this myself but my watch is already activated):
    -Turn off phone completely, get the watch into an area with a known good LTE signal and try using the Emergency SOS feature, or just dialing 911.
    -If and when the call goes through, say "Hello, my name is <name> and this is a non emergency test call."
    -The dispatcher may try to read back your telephone number and/or address (which was technically never set), if not, you could say "Could you read back my telephone number and location address?"
    -Thank the dispatcher for his/her time and disconnect.
    Note: I work in telecom and perform 911 test calls almost daily.

    Honestly, i'm just not sure it's going to work... and i'm not sure how that fits into the legality of the FCC requirements?
    Maybe a wearable device doesn't fall into the same category as a standard cell phone...? Or the fact that this is an LTE only device puts it into a different bucket?
     
  11. mac1281, Oct 12, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017

    mac1281 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    It works! I just tested it out with my iPhone off, no WiFi connection and never activated the $10/mo data. I dialed 911 and there was a delay, thought it wasnt working, then right before I was about to hang up the call went through. The delay was about 5-10 seconds. The emergency dispatcher answered and I told her it was only a test using the Apple Watch. The dispatcher said she heard me very clearly and said sounded better than a lot of phones. She said there was no gps location and no phone number associated with the call. I thanked her for her time and hung up.

    Hope this helps. It definitely makes me feel better when I go running without the iPhone and if there is an emergency.
     
  12. michaelb5000 macrumors regular

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    Sep 23, 2015
    #12
    Thanks for taking one for the team. We are not supposed to test 911 calls, and at times, they will still try to dispatch the police (but here they had no address), but it good to know, and definitely makes the LTE version more valuable without a plan.
     
  13. deeddawg macrumors 604

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    US
    #13
    Are you sure about that?

    Your statements seems to contradict the "How do I place a 'test' call to make sure 911 works for me?" section of 911.gov which provides instructions on how to properly test your 911 service.

    Test calls confirm that your local 911 service can receive your 911 call and has the correct location information. Test calls can be scheduled by contacting your local 911 call center via its non-emergency phone number.

    To find the non-emergency, 10-digit phone number for your local 911 call center, conduct an Internet search for the non-emergency number of the local law enforcement agency. When you speak with law enforcement staff, explain that you do not have an emergency but would like to request the local 911 call center's non-emergency 10-digit phone number.
     
  14. fischersd macrumors 601

    fischersd

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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    #14
    That's awesome!! It means the iPhone must have passed over the carrier information (MCC/MNC) to the watch as part of the pairing process - otherwise how would the watch know what carrier to initiate the call on? The only way that Apple could have accomplished this otherwise would have been carrier-specific SKU's. Glad they didn't do that.
     
  15. mac1281 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Seems like the statement from 911.gov is asking us to call each agencies "non-emergency" number which is separate from actually dialing 9-1-1. Since to my understanding the non emergency number is staffed by the same dispatchers that answers the 911 calls they can provide the same information on whether the test call worked without tying up the 911 network. I assume they will answer the non-emergency calls to assist our questions when they don't have any calls coming in on the 911 line.

    The problem with testing the Apple Watch in my case is that if I attempt to dial the 10 digit non emergency number without the data plan it will reject the call thinking that its just another number. But by 911 the Apple Watch automatically pushes the call through based on how the smartphone and now watch are programmed. I tried to pick the best time of the day to test 911 hoping not to affect the emergency calls. I hate to bother them but I truly think this is an important test.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 13, 2017 ---
    Either what you described OR the closest antenna tower (ATT, Sprint, Tmobile, Verizon, etc) will accept any 911 request regardless of whether the device has been activated or not and regardless of which network the device was original locked to.
     
  16. deeddawg macrumors 604

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    US
    #16
    I think you misunderstood the instruction at the site.

    Nobody's saying that dialing the 10 digit number is testing 911 -- it's to talk with the 911 center to schedule the actual 911 test. Maybe in five minutes, maybe in an hour.

    Either way, the point is to make a non-emergency call to ensure they're not already so busy your 911 test would interfere with them handling emergencies. I'd think that'd be better than just assuming a not-busy time of day; no way to guess if they've had a bunch of folks call in sick or something else causing them to be at-capacity at an otherwise seemingly low-volume time of day.

    Chances are your call had no impact on operations. I was posting in response to someone else's statement and not addressing your test.
     
  17. mac1281 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Your explanation makes sense. This is an important conversation and I appreciate your effort in looking into 911.gov and your input into this.
     
  18. deeddawg macrumors 604

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    US
    #18
    Indeed. It's nice to know that the LTE will work for 911 even without an active plan. That might well lead a number of people into buying an LTE watch even if they don't have need for the capability on a regular basis. Having access to emergency services without your phone present is a great thing for runners, walkers, cyclists, etc.
     

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17 October 10, 2017