FCC Adopts ±3-Meter Indoor Vertical Location Accuracy Metric
Friday, March 15, 2019 | Comments

The FCC sided with public safety and proposed a vertical (Z axis) location accuracy metric of ±3 meters relative to the handset for 80 percent of indoor wireless 9-1-1 calls. The new rules will help first responders more accurately locate people who make wireless 9-1-1 calls from multistory buildings.

The commission tentatively concluded that such a location accuracy metric — within 3 meters above or below the phone — would be sufficiently accurate to identify the caller’s floor level in most cases and would be technically feasible under the timeframes established in the FCC’s enhanced 9-1-1 rules. The FCC proposal would assist 9-1-1 call centers in identifying the floor level where the 911 call occurred, which can reduce emergency response times and ultimately save lives.

In January, CTIA and national wireless carriers encouraged the FCC to adopt a Z-axis 9-1-1 indoor location accuracy metric, reversing a CTIA proposal last year that said a metric shouldn’t yet be set. In a 2018 report, CTIA said its testing verified only a ±5-meter indoor location accuracy metric.

The proposed metric will improve the FCC’s enhanced 9-1-1 location accuracy rules, which require wireless providers to automatically transmit to 9-1-1 call centers information on the location of wireless 9-1-1 callers. The rules require wireless providers to meet an increasingly stringent series of location accuracy benchmarks in accordance with a timetable, including provision of the caller’s “dispatchable location,” such as the street address and apartment number, or vertical location on a phased-in basis beginning in April 2021.

The FCC previously deferred a decision on a specific vertical location accuracy metric until it received additional testing data, which has now occurred.

"Originally, the wireless industry proposed that our vertical location accuracy metric should be plus or minus 5 meters," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "But based on the results of the tests that have been conducted to date as well as the input of public-safety officials, I believe that a more stringent proposal is justified, and I have every expectation that our proposal will give our nation’s first responders the information they need to save lives."

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