The Federal Communications Commission says the nation's four largest wireless carriers have agreed to relay text messages to text-enabled 911 call centers by May 2014.
The four carriers _ AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile _ cover 90 percent of the population. However, only a handful of call centers are able to receive texts today, and it's unclear how many will be able to receive them in 2014.
Brian Fontes, CEO of the National Emergency Number Association, said the agreement and the associated deadline help call centers plan their technology upgrades and training. NENA organizes state and local agencies that operate such centers.
One 911 call center in Iowa started accepting texts in 2009, and trials of 911 texting are going on in Vermont. In other areas, there is no response to texts sent to 911.
Under the agreement announced Thursday, texters will get an answer, whether their call center is able to receive texts or not. If it can't, they'll get an automated response telling them to call instead. The proposed solution enables true SMS to the 3-digit number 9-1-1 across approximately 80% of mobile devices in the United States. This is clearly the preferred mode identified in the EAAC (Emergency Access Advisory Committee) and the easiest in terms of citizen adoption and education.
Second, the carriers will implement a “bounce back” message nationwide. . It simply means that citizens attempting to contact 9-1-1 via SMS where it is not supported will receive a response message telling them to call 9-1-1. This is critical and, frankly, overdue.
Third, the commitment was made in advance of the expected FCC considering “steps towards ensuring that text-to-911 is made available as soon as possible by all carriers, and over-the-top providers who offer Internet-based text services” . The FCC has made clear that they want to foster innovation across not just SMS, but also pictures and video. It will be interesting to see how a viable solution put forth by the largest industry players is balanced against other very interesting options and the need to continue to innovate new solutions. The FCC is expected to issue further guidance on December 12th.
The FCC said texting to 911 could be useful when a phone call could put the caller in danger. Texting could also aid a person with disabilities who is unable to call.
However, the FCC says people should always call 911 during an emergency if they can.
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Fri, Dec 14 @ 1PM Eastern
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Dr. Thomas Rea - Professor of Medicine, University of Washington
Bonus distribution at:
- NENA Development Conference, February 2013
- 9-1-1 Goes to Washington, March 2013
- NAED's Navigator Conference, April 2013
Winter ENP Exam Period
The application for the Fall exam period is now closed, but register before December 17, 2012, to secure your seat in the next ENP examination window: January 19-February 2, 2013. Visit the ENP Web page for more information.
UPCOMING EVENTSMark Your Calendars! 2012-2013 NENA National Event Dates
NENA Development Conference - Feb. 10-13, 2013 - Caribe Royale - Orlando, FL
9-1-1 Goes to Washington - Mar. 17-20, 2013 - L'Enfant Plaza Hotel - Washington, DC
NENA 2013 - June 15-20, 2013 - Charlotte Convention Center - Charlotte, NC