COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN
APPROVING IN PART; DISSENTING IN PART
Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 and Other Next Generation 911 Applications, PS
Docket No. 11-153; Framework for Next Generation 911 Deployment, PS Docket No. 10-255
Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” When you step
away from all of the technical details this item is simply about relevant stakeholders putting that principle
The ability to send messages, photos, and video clips, as well as other innovations in
broadband technologies, can improve 9-1-1 communications for all Americans. Text messaging plays a
vital role in protecting life and property when making a voice call is either dangerous or impossible due to
transmission problems. This technology enables the more than 40 million people in the U.S. with hearing
and speech disabilities to use their mobile phones to effectively access emergency services. Without text-
to-911, they may possess the ability to place a call; but remain unable to express what type of help they
This is why the Commission has been trying, for several years now, to promote the deployment of
text-to-911 and other Next Generation technologies. The reality is that the wireless industry and public
safety agencies have found it difficult to deploy these advanced communications services. The first
substantial breakthrough occurred, however, in December of 2012 thanks to industry collaboration. The
four nationwide wireless carriers agreed to deploy text-to-911, on a nationwide basis, by May 15, 2014.
That agreement helped accelerate progress to more than 90 percent of the nation’s wireless consumers.
The wider availability of these services is also spurring Public Safety Answering Points, or PSAPs, to
upgrade their networks so they can accept text to 911 messages. It is great to see entities, like Intrado and
TeleCommunication Systems, work closely to help PSAPs deploy more text-to-911 services.
We build on the momentum from that 2012 voluntary commitment with this item. The Order
makes clear that text-to-911 benefits should extend to consumers of all CMRS providers as well as those
of certain interconnected Over-the-Top text messaging services. We are able to take this significant
action thanks to the fact that several companies are currently sending text messages, using SMS-based
protocols, routed over the underlying carriers’ SMS network. In the Further Notice released in January of
this year, we expressly sought comment on the technical details of the various approaches Over the Top
service messages can use to send text messages. Several companies offering this service supported the
technology neutral approach that the Commission adopts today. They also asserted that it is technically
feasible to set December 31, 2014 as the deadline, for Over the Top message services to comply with the
I am also pleased to see that the Commission establishes a centralized database through which
PSAPs may register as “text-ready” and notify all relevant covered text providers of their ability to accept
texts. This approach can help facilitate wider deployment of text to 911 networks.
The Further Notice asks important questions about promoting the delivery of these messages
through more advanced technologies. It seeks comment on a proposal to require enhanced location
accuracy information when a 911 text message is delivered. It also asks technical questions about
delivering these messages over Wi-Fi only networks and telematics services.
When I left the building at 6:30 PM last evening, I was prepared to enthusiastically support this
item. This morning, I arrived to the office to learn of an eleventh hour proposal that would direct the
Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council, or CSRIC, to form a task force that
would inquire into a number of issues.
I agree that it is appropriate to form a Task Force and to examine
the structure and architecture of our nation’s PSAPs and determine whether there are ways that PSAPS
could promote efficiency of operations, safety of life, and cost containment.
I must dissent, however,
from the proposal that came to my attention less than two hours ago, that the Task Force inquire into
whether states, Tribal, and local entities that divert E911 funds should be ineligible to participate on
various FCC councils, committees, and working groups.
Doing so unnecessarily prejudges the issue and
creates avoidable friction with our state partners that I worked for years, as the former Joint Board Chair,
I commend those parties, who have been working constructively with the Commission staff, and
relevant stakeholders over the years. Your collaboration is vital to a successful transition to Next
Generation 911 technologies.
I also wish to thank Admiral Simpson, David Furth, Nicole McGinnis, Tim
May and the other members of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, for working so
diligently, on this item. Happy anniversary, Mr. Siehl. What a fine way to celebrate your milestone of
serving 30 years at the Commission.
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