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“Big 4” Wireless Carriers Will Deploy Text-to-9-1-1 Capabilities on their Networks in 2014

Thursday, December 6, 2012   (3 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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Text-to-9-1-1 capabilities will arrive on the networks of the "Big 4” wireless carriers in 2014 under an historic agreement reached today between NENA - The 9-1-1 Association, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and the Association for Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO).   The agreement was submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is scheduled to discuss the issue and consider further action at its upcoming meeting on December 12. 
The agreement does not mean that text-to-9 1 1 service will be available to all consumers by 2014; that will hinge on the deployment of hardware, software, and training at the more than 6,000 9-1-1 centers across America.  
However, the agreement is expected to hasten the day when all Americans can call for emergency aid via text messages.  Text-to-9-1-1 capabilities are especially sought by people in the hearing and speech disabilities communities.   
"As the public becomes more mobile and embraces new methods for communicating, 9-1-1 has to be ready to answer non-voice requests for assistance,” said NENA President Barbara Jaeger, ENP. "This historic agreement demonstrates the shared commitment of parties to serve the evolving needs of citizens in the digital age.”  
Under the agreement, the parties will work together and with all stakeholders from industry, government, public safety, and consumer groups to develop the technical standards and operational procedures that will ensure a seamless introduction of texting into 9-1-1 centers across America. Specific provisions include:  
  • Text-to-9-1-1 service capabilities will be deployed throughout the carriers’ wireless networks by May 15, 2014; 
  • Bounce-back notifications will be sent to subscribers by June 30, 2013 when text-to-9-1-1 is unavailable in their area; and
  • Text-to-9-1-1 progress reports will be submitted quarterly by the carriers to NENA and APCO.
The agreement also includes a commitment by all parties to educate the public about how and when they can send texts to 9-1-1.  
"It is critically important that the public be reminded that the best way to reach 9-1-1 is still via voice communications,” added Jaeger. 
Click here to review the full text of the agreement.
Click here to read the statement by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. 


Grant Lanier says...
Posted Monday, December 31, 2012
My center in Palm Beach County, fl was one of the first in the state to be NG 911 compliant. Centers need to make sure that their recording equipment is capable of recording texts, videos, pics etc and displaying that info in the same manner that 911 recordings were displayed. Our recorder is NG 911 compliant and capable of doing this. The challenge will be the time added to a 911 call to get information about an emergency via text and to view video or pics. studies show that most cell users will most likely be inclined to text their info.
Sheri Rogers says...
Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Are the Big 4 going to deliver location information with those 911 texts? Wireless e9-1-1 doesn't even provide consistant reliable location information on calls so they're just going to let that slide and implement something else that the expectations and the reality don't match up? Are they going to provide the additional PSAP personnel to manage all of the texts? I think it is a bad idea to implement this without being ready, just to meet public expectations....the push should be on making the technology reliable before it's implemented...
Carol Adair Retired says...
Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I applaud all the work that has been done to get to this point. Is anything being done to help smaller centers fund the equipment that it will take to answer these text calls?