Instructions for PSAPs Seeking Real-Time Text 9-1-1 Service from Carriers Released
Friday, March 12, 2021 | Comments

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) released certification and registration instructions for public-safety answering points (PSAPs) planning to request delivery of real-time text (RTT) 9-1-1 service from commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers.

The PSHSB also announced the availability of an updated text-to-9-1-1 registry listing PSAPs that are ready to receive RTT service and providing notice to CMRS providers of the date on which the PSAP became ready to receive RTT messages.

Under the commission’s rules, CMRS providers offering voice services must be capable of transmitting 9-1-1 calls from individuals with speech or hearing disabilities through means other than mobile radio handsets, such as the use of text telephone (TTY) devices. In 2016, the commission amended its rules to facilitate a transition from TTY technology to RTT as a reliable and interoperable universal text solution over wireless IP-enabled networks for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or have a speech disability.

As part of this transition, the commission amended its rules to provide that, subject to certain exceptions, CMRS providers are not required to support 9-1-1 access via TTY if they provide 9-1-1 access via RTT. The commission also mandated that once a PSAP is capable of receiving RTT communications, CMRS providers must deliver 9-1-1 communications in RTT format within six months of a valid request from the PSAP, provided the CMRS provider has selected RTT has its accessible text communications method.

To make a valid request for RTT-to-9-1-1 service, a PSAP must certify that it is technically ready to receive 9-1-1 messages in an RTT format; the appropriate local or state 9-1-1 service governing authority must have authorized the PSAP to accept, and by extension, the provider to provide, RTT-to-9-1-1 service; and the PSAP must notify the CMRS provider that the PSAP is technically ready to receive 9-1-1 RTT messages.

The PSHSB maintains a text-to-9-1-1 registry to facilitate PSAP requests to receive 9-1-1 communications via text messages. Registration in the Text-to-9-1-1 Registry serves as the required notice of a valid request to covered text providers and triggers the requirement that they must begin delivering text-to-9-1-1 within six months.

The PSHSB updated the registry so that it also lists PSAPs that are ready to receive RTT-to-9-1-1 service and the date on which the PSAP became ready. Therefore, registration in the registry now serves as the required notice of a valid request to CMRS providers for RTT-to-9-1-1 service. PSAPs are not required to use the registry; they may also request text-to-9-1-1 or RTT-to-9-1-1 service by providing written notification via any means reasonably acceptable to the service provider.

Find the updated registry here. Find the PSAP registration instructions here.

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