FCC Officials Say Carriers, PSAPs Should Do More for Text to 9-1-1 (7/22/14)
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | Comments

David Simpson, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB), took carriers and public-safety answering points (PSAPs) to task for 9-1-1 reliability and text to 9-1-1.

In a speech to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), Simpson noted the recent 9-1-1 outages in Washington state and said the transition to IP is no excuse for a lack of 9-1-1 reliability.

“Let me tell you the bottom line: Carriers will be fully accountable,” he said. “Yes, it is an ecosystem, but the buck stops with the carrier. The transition to IP does not and will not absolve providers’ responsibilities for ensuring that 9-1-1 functions as our citizens expect it to function.

“Access to 9-1-1 is a core value in our society, a service that must be maintained even as technology evolves and the new replaces the old,” Simpson said.

He also said more carriers should implement text to 9-1-1, along with PSAPs.

“The unfortunate truth is that, on the whole, PSAPs are not where they should be and need to be on text to 9-1-1,” Simpson said. “It has been more than a year since the FCC secured a commitment from wireless carriers serving 90 percent of Americans to deploy text to 9-1-1 by 2014. Yet today, only a small fraction of PSAPs support text to 9-1-1.”

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler backed up the message in a blog on the FCC site.

“More than 100 emergency call centers in 17 states now support text to 9-1-1, and others have initiated plans to come online,” he said. “I commend the four nationwide wireless carriers for following through on their commitment, and while I’m pleased to see that PSAPs are beginning to respond, there remains more to be done.

“Other than the four major wireless carriers, no other providers of text services have offered voluntary commitments to implement text to 9-1-1. On the PSAP side, despite recent progress, the majority still do not support text to 9-1-1.”

Simpson’s full speech is here.

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