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NENA Applauds FCC Action to Spur Text Messaging to 9-1-1

Wednesday, December 12, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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On the heels of last week’s historic agreement between NENA-The 9-1-1 Association, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and the Association for Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO) to bring text-to-9-1-1 capabilities to the "Big 4” wireless networks in 2014, the FCC today took further action to enable this technology and ensure that all Americans, especially those with hearing and speech disabilities, have access to 9-1-1.

In a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued this afternoon, the Commission seeks to address issues related to the provisioning of text-to-9-1-1 services via non-native SMS applications. These so-called "over the top” messaging applications, such as WhatsApp, Blackberry Messenger, Facebook Messenger, and Apple iMessage, represent a growing segment of the overall text messaging landscape, but are not currently designed to deliver messages to 9-1-1, nor are 9-1-1 centers capable of receiving such messages.

It is very important for the news media and the public to recognize that neither the Commission’s action today nor last week’s agreement will make text-to-9‑1‑1 service available to all consumers by a date certain. That will depend on the deployment of hardware, software, and training at the more than 6,000 9-1-1 centers across America, and progress will vary from one community to the next.

"NENA thanks the FCC, specifically Chairman Genachowski and the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, for their ongoing commitment to 9-1-1 issues,” said NENA President Barbara Jaeger. "We look forward to working with the Commission and all stakeholders to make text-to-9-1-1 a success. However, until text-to-9-1-1 becomes available – and even after -- citizens contacting 9-1-1 should do so via voice communications whenever possible.”