9-1-1 Indoor Location, First Responder Priority Services on FCC’s July Agenda
Thursday, June 25, 2020 | Comments

The FCC plans to address the issue of 9-1-1 indoor location accuracy requirements at its July open meeting.

In 2019, the FCC adopted a vertical (Z-axis) location accuracy metric of ±3 meters for wireless 9-1-1 calls that it said would help first responders quickly locate people calling for help from multistory buildings. In July, the commission will consider a report and order that would affirm its 2021 and 2023 deadlines for nationwide wireless providers to deploy Z-axis technology in the nation’s most populated markets and call for full nationwide deployment by 2025.

“This item would also give a green light to wireless carriers to deploy technologies that focus on multistory buildings and handset-based deployment solutions that meet the Z-axis metric,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a blog.

Earlier this month, CTIA and the nationwide providers encouraged the commission to adopt an alternative Z-axis framework that expands the geographic coverage requirements to wireless 9-1-1 calls nationwide and recognizes the current state of mobile OS-based solutions to deliver ± 3 meter vertical location information.

Specifically, the FCC should allow the providers to meet the April 2021 benchmark with Z-axis solutions that deliver ±3 meters nationwide, rather than in just the top 25 cellular market areas (CMAs). The change would ensure that providers can deliver ±3 meter vertical location information for 20 times more 9-1-1 calls than the existing benchmark focused on the top 25 CMAs, the CTIA filing said.

Also on the agenda is an item that would update the rules for Wireless Priority Service (WPS), Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) and Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP).

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) oversees the three longstanding programs to help ensure that emergency workers receive prioritized connectivity to landline and wireless networks, as well as priority for service restoration, if needed. While DHS manages these programs through contracts with participating communications providers, the FCC’s rules for two of these programs were developed decades ago when communications networks were based on legacy technologies.

“It’s time to refresh and revise those rules,” Pai said. “So on July 16, the commission will consider proposals to remove outdated requirements, reflect the current marketplace, and help ensure these programs meet the needs of emergency personnel today and in the future.”

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