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FCC Adopts Rules To Help Consumers During Text-to-9-1-1 Transition

Monday, May 20, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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The Federal Communications Commission has adopted rules requiring wireless carriers and certain other text messaging providers to send an automatic "bounce-back” text message to consumers who try to text 9-1-1 where text-to-9-1-1 service is not available. The FCC’s requirement will help protect the public by substantially reducing the risk of consumers sending a text message to 9-1-1 and mistakenly believing that 9-1-1 authorities have received it. Instead, consumers will receive an immediate response that text-to-9-1-1 is not supported and to contact emergency services by another means, such as by making a voice call or using telecommunications relay services (if deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled) to access 9-1-1.

The FCC noted that deployment of Next Generation 9-1-1, including text-to-9-1-1 service, has begun,but the transition is still in the very early stages and will not be uniform. During the transition, text-to-9-1-1 will be available in certain geographic areas sooner than others and may be supported by some service providers and 9-1-1 call centers but not others. In addition, as text-to-9-1-1 becomes more widely available, it is likely to raise consumer expectations as to its availability, which makes it increasingly important for the public to know when the service is not available in an emergency.

To address these concerns, the FCC is requiring wireless carriers and "interconnected” text message providers – that is, providers of software applications that enable consumers to send text messages to and receive text messages from all or substantially all text-capable U.S. telephone numbers – to implement the bounce-back capability no later than September 30, 2013. This requirement does not apply to certain text message applications that reach only a defined set of users, such as those within games and social media.

Click here to read more from the FCC.