FCC Secures 9-1-1 Vertical Location Commitments from Wireless Carriers

FCC Secures Life-Saving Commitments From Wireless Carriers To Deliver 9-1-1 Vertical Location Information Nationwide.

Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel this week announced agreements with America’s three largest mobile phone providers to begin delivering vertical location information in connection with 9-1-1 calls nationwide in the coming days.  This information will help first responders quickly locate 9-1-1 callers in multi-story buildings, which will reduce response times and ultimately save lives.

“Six years is too long to wait for 9-1-1 vertical location information that can save lives,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel. “These settlements accomplish what has evaded the agency for too long:  they ensure that the FCC, public safety, and wireless carriers work together to immediately start delivering this information to first responders without further delay.”

The FCC adopted rules to improve location information for 9-1-1 wireless calls back in 2015. Those rules require nationwide wireless providers to deploy dispatchable locations or meet certain z-axis location accuracy requirements in the nation’s largest 25 markets by April 3, 2021, and to certify to such deployment by June 2, 2021.

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon sought an extension of these deadlines, based in part on challenges with testing z-axis solutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In April, the FCC announced an Enforcement Bureau inquiry into these providers’ compliance with the FCC’s deadlines as well as the current capabilities of z-axis solutions.

According to the FCC:

To improve public safety and greatly speed up nationwide implementation of vertical location information, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau reached settlements with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon that resolve the investigations.

The settlements require each company to start providing wireless 9-1-1 callers’ z-axis location information to 9-1-1 call centers within seven days; to implement a compliance plan that includes specific testing, reporting, and public interest conditions; and to pay a $100,000 settlement amount.

These enforceable commitments extend beyond the twenty-five largest metropolitan areas required under FCC rules and instead assures that vertical location information will be made available to public safety entities nationwide.

The settlements also will provide public safety stakeholders with greater visibility into industry progress toward dispatchable location and floor-level accuracy and guidance on receiving and using z-axis information.  Under these agreements, the FCC, carriers, and public safety can move forward collaboratively to better protect American lives.

Maryland is accelerating its move toward the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system – which will make public safety both more effective and more responsive by improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows.

The Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative, continues to meet and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of NG911.

The General Assembly this year passed omnibus legislation to add necessary expertise to the Maryland 9-1-1 Board by adding additional representation, including a county finance professional, county 9-1-1 specialists, an expert from the cybersecurity industry, and a member to represent persons with disabilities. The bill also requires telecommunications providers to promptly notify 9-1-1 centers in the event of an outage necessary to implement alternative communications methods and provide proper public notice.

MACo also successfully supported legislation to designate the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) as a Cabinet-level agency and transfer the 9-1-1 Board from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to MEMA.

As a result of the Commission’s work, the Governor in 2019 signed into law SB 339/ HB 397, Public Safety – 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System (Carl Henn’s Law), a MACo Legislative Initiative to update state laws, and the 9-1-1 financing system to provide the flexibility and resources needed for the deployment of a statewide NG911 network.

Visit the FCC website for more information.