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112 No Signal Mobile Phone Call Diverts to Satellite Hoax

Outline
Email claims that dialling 112 on a mobile phone will divert to a satellite signal and reach emergency services even if no signal is available.


Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, July 2005)
Subject: Information regarding the Underground

Dear All

FYI

If you travel to work on the tube please note the following information:

If your mobile phone has no signal (if you are in a tunnel) you can dial 112 and it will divert to a satellite signal and this puts you through to the 999 Call Centre.

All phone companies have signed up and as it is a satellite service It also gives them a trace to you if you do not know where you are.

Please forward to people you know.




Commentary:
This widely circulating email contains misinformation and should not be taken seriously. The message claims that dialling the emergency number 112 on a mobile phone will get through to emergency services even if there is no signal available. According to the email, a call to 112 "will be diverted to a satellite signal" in areas where there is no signal such as the London Underground train system. However, these claims are completely unfounded. A press release on the Transport for London website dismisses the message as a "misleading spam e-mail".

The press release quotes a London Underground spokesperson as follows:
This e-mail is incorrect. The 112 number does link people through to 999, but it only works if you have a signal on your mobile phone. If you have no signal bars on your phone, it will not work.

It will not divert to a satellite signal.
Even if a traveller did have a real satellite phone, it would be extremely unlikely to work in an underground train system because such phones need a clear line of site to the satellite. The ROCOM website notes that
All satellite telephones require line of sight. This means that the antenna of the satellite phone must be placed outside with a clear view to the satellite.
112 is a real emergency number and will link GSM mobile phone network users to emergency services in some parts of the world. In the European Union, 112 is the standard emergency telephone number. In some other areas, dialling 112 will automatically divert the call to a local emergency number. However, as with any other mobile phone call, a signal must be available before the call can succeed.

If you receive this email please do not forward it to others. Perpetrating the false information the message contains could ultimately lead to confusion and dangerous diversion during a real emergency situation. The message should be deleted.

If you receive this email please do not forward it to others. Perpetrating the false information the message contains could ultimately lead to confusion and dangerous diversion during a real emergency situation. The message should be deleted.

References:
Transport for London - Misleading e-mail
How satellite phones work
Mobile Phone Guide
1-1-2 Wikipedia
SOS 112 Europe

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen