September 12th, 2007

Space Cadet

My GzOne May Have to Be Be GoNe

I've been working on disabling the 9-1-1 alarm on my phone. I've essentially gotten nowhere. First I called Verizon. They said they couldn't do anything because it was a part of the 9-1-1 system on the phone and that is out of their purview.  So I called the manufacturer, Casio. The tech guy, Nelson, said the alarm was an FCC requirement and it was against FCC regulations to disable it. I explained why it was a bad idea, and he understood. He said if I sent him an e-mail stating my complaint and he would forward it to Casio engineering and see what they could do. So I sent him the e-mail (see below). That was two days ago. I just called to see what's happening, and he said he's waiting for a reply. I worked at a company similar to Casio, and I bet we would have gotten a preliminary reply out by now.

I decided to start agitating, so I posted about the 9-1-1 alarm on the phone's Amazon site. I'll be posting about it on other product review sites for the phone as well.

Verizon said I can "return" the phone and then rebuy it. So I guess I'll do that. Then if Casio hasn't come up with a fix within 30 days, I'll give up and get a different phone. :-( In the meantime, I'll be using G's phone when I go out to the land. Actually I'll probably bring them both because his phone isn't waterproof.

Here's the e-mail that I sent to Nelson at Casio:

Dear Casio Tech Support,

I need to know how to turn off the 9-1-1 alarm on my GzOne type S cell phone.

Earlier this week, I arrived at some property I own to discover that the chain across the driveway had been cut. Since the house there has been repeatedly robbed and vandalized, I stopped my truck out of sight of the house and dialed 9-1-1 on my new Casio GzOne. As soon as I hit send, the phone's speaker began emitting a loud siren-like alarm. I quickly closed the phone and waited quietly to see if anyone had been alerted by the alarm. The narrow road dead-ends at my driveway. If the thieves had been alerted to my presence by the alarm, my only means of escape would have been to attempt to back all the way out the narrow road to the highway. When no one reacted, I closed my truck's windows, covered the phone's speaker and dialed 9-1-1 again. The siren cut off as soon as the police answered. But it would have been much safer for me if it hadn't gone off at all.

I'm e-mailing you now because I need to know how to silence the 9-1-1 alarm. I go out to my property alone to check for criminal activity two or three times a week. With my old cell phone, whenever anyone suspicious showed up while I was there, I would quickly hide and call 9-1-1. But I can't call 9-1-1 on my new GzOne phone because the 9-1-1 siren will automatically alert the criminals to my presence.

When I called Casio tech support to find out how to silence this alarm, the customer support person stated that the alarm could not be silenced because it was required by FCC regulations. I went on the FCC's website but I can't find the regulation requiring a 9-1-1 alarm. I would like to know of the regulation number that calls for such an alarm.  But more than that, I would like to know how to turn the alarm feature off. If it can't be silenced, I'm going to have to return this otherwise excellent phone to Verizon.

I'm not the only one who will have trouble with this. This feature will be a problem in many situations where people would call for help from 9-1-1. Think of a student at Columbine or Virginia Tech hiding from the gunman in a closet and trying to quietly call 9-1-1 to get help. Or imagine someone at home in bed who hears a burglar break the window downstairs. Quickly they reach for their cell phone to call 9-1-1. The last thing someone needs at that moment is a loud alarm going off when they hit send.

Thank you for your help with this matter, cdozo

All New Verizon Phones Sound An Alarm If 9-1-1 Is Dialed


"Automatic A/B Roaming - Intelligent Retry: <snip>...The Order approves this mode, subject to two conditions that address the possibility that this mode may cause long set-up times in some cases. These conditions are: (1) that the handset provide effective feedback to inform the user when 911 call processing is underway, such as an audible tone or message and a visual status report, and (2) that, in any case once a 911 is sent, the handset not spend more than 17 seconds seeking to complete the call with the preferred carrier before reattempting the call with the non-preferred carrier. If the handset does not receive confirmation that the call is ringing at the 911 location within that 17 seconds, the handset would switch the call to the other cellular carrier."

Well, that's just ducky, don't you think. Too bad I just signed a two year contract with Verizon. Not all carriers phones use the method that requires an alarm.
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