FCC’s Annual Report Finds 5 States Diverted More Than $200M in 9-1-1 Fees
Wednesday, December 09, 2020 | Comments

The FCC’s annual report to Congress on the collection and distribution of 9-1-1 fees by states found that five states diverted more than $200 million in 9-1-1 fees to uses besides 9-1-1 in 2019.

Overall, states collected more than $3 billion in 9-1-1 fees in 2019. The five states diverting 9-1-1 fees in 2019 — Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and West Virginia — were the same five states that diverted fees in 2018. In 2018, those states diverted nearly $198 million.

The report found that New Jersey diverted 75.2%, or $93 million, of the fees; New York diverted 41.7%, or $97 million, of 9-1-1 fees; Rhode Island, diverted $54.4%, or $8.3 million; and West Virginia diverted 1.6%, or $1 million. Full diversion numbers for Nevada were not reported.

In Nevada, the diverted funds went only to public safety uses, while in the other four states the diverted funds went to both public-safety and non-public-safety uses.

“The 9-1-1 fees that we pay on our phone bills are essential to maintaining and improving our nation’s 9-1-1 services, which makes it outrageous that a handful of states continue to siphon this funding for other purposes,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “This practice is especially egregious during a time when America has grappled with a pandemic, hurricanes and other natural disasters and when we were again reminded of the heroic work of first responders and the critical importance of our 9-1-1 system.”

The report also contains detailed state-by-state data on the other aspects of 9-1-1 deployment including the number and type of 9-1-1 calls, the number of 9-1-1 call centers and telecommunications, investment in next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1), programs to support cybersecurity for 9-1-1 systems and the extent of state-level oversight and auditing of the collection and use of 9-1-1 fees.

On NG 9-1-1, 42 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, indicated that some 9-1-1 funds went to NG 9-1-1 programs in 2019. Collectively, $278 million was spent on NG 9-1-1 program, accounting for about 9.2% of fees collected in those areas.

The FCC is seeking comment on the report. Comments are due January 7 and reply comments are due January 22. Find the full 9-1-1 report here. Earlier this year, the FCC requested comments on how to curb 9-1-1 fee diversion by states. Commenters in that proceeding told the FCC that any diversion prevention measures should not harm local 9-1-1 entities.

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