FCC Task Force Offers NG 9-1-1 Funding Report
Friday, October 02, 2015 | Comments

The FCC's Task Force on Optimal Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Architecture (TFOPA) released a report with recommendations on 9-1-1 fees and resource allocation. The main finding is that funding for 9-1-1 must be predictable, stable and dedicated for the purpose of 9-1-1.

The report recognizes the great diversity among states and local governments in their approaches to next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) deployment. Some states have authority for decision-making for PSAPs within a state, other states delegate authority to regional entities, some states have home-rule authorities and some states have a combination.

Funding also varies from the amounts charged as a 9-1-1 fee on wireline and some wireless customers’ bills. What is done with the 9-1-1 fees collected also varies. Many states designate those fees specifically for 9-1-1, though some states have moved the funds involved to their general treasury to support non-9-1-1 purposes. Change in communications technology has also fostered new services that allow users to connect to 9-1-1 without contributing fees for 9-1-1, thus forcing a specific customer base to unfairly assume the overall cost of 9-1-1.

The report identifies and analyzes at a high level the priority funding alternatives in this context. The report also recognizes that further work needs to be done to examine these potential options and recommends that FCC continue to engage on these issues with state and local government. Some of the recommendations will require further study, especially how to fund new services offered over broadband networks, the report said.

A summary of key recommendations follows:
• There is a need for planning and coordination throughout states to plan for and facilitate the deployment of NG 9-1-1.
• The quality and accuracy of reporting 9-1-1 data at all levels of government could better build support for the need of funding, including third-party auditing of state and local government data used in the “Net 911 Act Report” that the FCC submits to Congress.
• There is a need for cooperation between federal and state governments, under the framework of cooperative federalism, to ensure the accelerated deployment of NG 9-1-1 networks across the country.
• If diversions from certain states continue, and without a potential new federal grant program, the momentum toward NG 9-1-1 deployments nationally could slow, and states and PSAPs would be left to maintain dual systems, legacy and IP based, in a difficult and challenging transition.
• PSAP consolidation is occurring at an evolutionary rather than revolutionary pace. Funding could provide incentives to consolidate or share services in appropriate ways.
• Funding is needed, and it is recommended that all services capable of communicating to PSAPs should contribute to the operations of 9-1-1 services. Also, it is recommended that the FCC work with Congress to address the need to help fund NG 9-1-1.
• The FCC, working with Congress, should do what it can to discourage the diversion of 9-1-1 fees and provide FCC auditing authority of 9-1-1 fees.
• The FCC should work with other federal agencies and Congress to provide funding for public-safety grants to states and local governments under appropriate conditions.
• Federal funds available to provide access to broadband ensure that PSAPs are connected to broadband as a first step for NG 9-1-1 deployment, and the FCC should consider using, among others, funds from spectrum auctions to assist states and PSAPs in this effort.
• Greater efforts should be made across the country for education and outreach to key policymakers at state and local government levels about the importance of NG 9-1-1 deployments, a timely transition and the deleterious impacts of continued diversions of 9-1-1 fees.
• The establishment of a new joint advisory committee for NG 9-1-1 and other 9-1-1 issues among the technical experts at state and local governments, the FCC, and the associations, organizations, carriers and vendors involved in 9-1-1 issues.

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