FCC adopts Text-to-911 Rules
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of
Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 and
PS Docket No. 11-153
Other Next Generation 911 Applications
Framework for Next Generation 911 Deployment
PS Docket No. 10-255
SECOND REPORT AND ORDER AND
THIRD FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING
Adopted: August 8, 2014
August 13, 2014
By the Commission: Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Rosenworcel issuing separate statements;
Commissioner Clyburn approving in part, dissenting in part and issuing a statement; Commissioner
O’Rielly concurring in part, dissenting in part and issuing a statement; Commissioner Pai dissenting and
issuing a statement.
Comment Date: (30 days after publication in the Federal Register)
Reply Comment Date: (60 days after publication in the Federal Register)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................................................. 1
II. BACKGROUND.................................................................................................................................... 3
III. SECOND REPORT AND ORDER........................................................................................................ 9
A. Adoption of Text-to-911 Requirements......................................................................................... 10
1. Public Policy Analysis............................................................................................................. 11
a. Benefits of Text-to-911..................................................................................................... 12
(i) Availability and Ease of Use...................................................................................... 12
(ii) Enhanced Access for People with Disabilities........................................................... 13
(iii) Alternative Means of Emergency Communication for the General Public................ 18
(iv) Estimated Valuation of Benefits Floor....................................................................... 20
b. Implementation Costs ....................................................................................................... 23
(i) CMRS Providers ........................................................................................................ 23
(ii) Interconnected Text Providers.................................................................................... 27
(iii) PSAPs......................................................................................................................... 32
c. Cost-Benefit Conclusion................................................................................................... 33
2. Delivery of Text-to-911 by all Covered Text Providers.......................................................... 34
a. Scope................................................................................................................................. 35
b. Technical Feasibility and the “Text-Capable” Deadline................................................... 38
c. Six-Month Implementation Period to Deliver Texts to Text-Ready PSAPs..................... 47
3. Notification to Covered Text Providers .................................................................................. 52
B. Routing of Text Messages to 911 .................................................................................................. 57
C. Liability Protection ........................................................................................................................ 62
D. Treatment of Voluntary Agreement............................................................................................... 66
E. Consumer Education...................................................................................................................... 69
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F. Legal Authority.............................................................................................................................. 71
G. Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture................................................................................... 79
IV. THIRD FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING........................................................ 81
A. Enhanced Location......................................................................................................................... 81
B. Roaming Support ......................................................................................................................... 107
C. Cost-Benefit Analysis for Enhanced Location and Roaming ...................................................... 117
D. Future Texting Services............................................................................................................... 123
V. PROCEDURAL MATTERS.............................................................................................................. 135
A. Ex Parte Presentations................................................................................................................. 135
B. Comment Filing Procedures ........................................................................................................ 136
C. Accessible Formats...................................................................................................................... 137
D. Regulatory Flexibility Analysis ................................................................................................... 138
E. Paperwork Reduction Analysis.................................................................................................... 139
F. Congressional Review Act........................................................................................................... 142
VI. ORDERING CLAUSES..................................................................................................................... 143
APPENDIX A: Final Rules
APPENDIX B: Proposed Rules
APPENDIX C: Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
APPENDIX D: Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
APPENDIX E: List of Commenters
In this Second Report and Order and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we
affirm the Commission’s commitment to ensuring access to emergency services for all Americans. The
Commission’s rules must evolve as legacy networks and services transition to next generation
technologies, and as consumer expectations and needs evolve. Current trends in mobile wireless usage
show the continued evolution from a predominantly voice-driven medium of communication to one based
more on text and data transmissions. The need to provide text-to-911 service in a timely manner is made
more pressing because many consumers believe text-to-911 is already an available service, because of the
unique value of text-to-911 for the millions of Americans with hearing or speech disabilities, and because
of the crucial role it can play in protecting life and property when making a voice call would be
dangerous, impractical, or impossible due to transmission problems. We therefore take action today to
ensure that the potentially life-saving benefits of text-to-911 are available to all consumers as swiftly as
In the Second Report and Order, we require that Commercial Mobile Radio Service
(CMRS) providers and other providers of interconnected text messaging applications (collectively,
“covered text providers”) be capable of supporting text-to-911 service by December 31, 2014.1
1 In general, “text messaging” refers to any service that allows a mobile device to send information consisting of text
to other mobile devices by using domestic telephone numbers. Examples of text messaging include Short Message
Service (SMS), Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), and two-way interconnected text applications. “Covered
text providers” includes all CMRS providers, as well as all providers of interconnected text messaging services that
enable consumers to send text messages to and receive text messages from all or substantially all text-capable U.S.
telephone numbers, including through the use of applications downloaded or otherwise installed on mobile phones.
See 47 C.F.R. § 20.18(n)(1). For purposes of text-to-911, we divide text applications into two broad categories: (1)
interconnected text applications that use IP-based protocols to deliver text messages to a service provider, and the
service provider then delivers the text messages to destinations identified by a telephone number, and (2) non-
interconnected applications that only support communication with a defined set of users of compatible applications
but do not support general communication with text-capable telephone numbers. We limit initial application of our
text-to-911 requirements to interconnected texts, as the term “interconnected” has been defined for purposes of text-
to-911, and this definition should not be construed as affecting the definition of “interconnected service” in the
context of Section 332 of the Communications Act. See 47 U.S.C. § 332(d)(2).
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text providers will have until June 30, 2015, or six months from the date of a Public Safety Answering
Point (PSAP) request, whichever is later, to implement text-to-911 for that PSAP. In the Third Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Third Further Notice), we seek comment on technical issues related to
the provision of enhanced location information and support for roaming for texts to 911, as well as the
capabilities of future texting services.
In September 2011, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice),
which sought comment on a number of issues related to the deployment of Next Generation 911
(NG911), including how to implement text-to-911.2 In the Notice, the Commission stated that sending
text messages, photos, and video clips has become an everyday activity for mobile device users on 21st
century broadband networks, and that adding non-voice capabilities to our 911 system will substantially
improve emergency response, save lives, and reduce property damage,3 as well as expand access to
emergency help, both for people with disabilities and for people in situations where placing a voice call to
911 could be difficult or dangerous.4
In December 2012, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless entered into a
voluntary agreement with the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and APCO International
(APCO) in which each of the four carriers agreed to be capable of providing text-to-911 service to
requesting PSAPs by May 15, 2014 (Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement).5 As part of the Carrier-NENA-
APCO Agreement, the four major carriers committed to implementing text-to-911 service to a PSAP
making a “valid” request of the carrier “within a reasonable amount of time,” not to exceed six months.6
Carriers promised to meet these commitments “independent of their ability to recover these associated
costs from state or local governments.”7 Carriers also committed to working with NENA and APCO and
the Commission to develop outreach for consumers and support efforts to educate PSAPs.8 The
commitments specifically did not extend to customers roaming on a network.9
2 Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 and Other Next Generation 911 Applications, Framework for Next
Generation 911 Deployment, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd
13615 (2011) (Notice).
3 Id. at ¶¶ 1-2.
4 Id. at ¶¶ 1-2. The Commission also noted that incorporating text and multimedia into the 911 system would
provide improved information that could be integrated with information from existing databases to enable
emergency responders to evaluate and respond to emergencies more quickly and effectively. Id.
5 See Letter from Terry Hall, APCO International; Barbara Jaeger, National Emergency Number Association
(NENA); Charles W. McKee, Sprint Nextel; Robert W. Quinn, Jr., AT&T; Kathleen O’Brien Ham, T-Mobile USA;
and Kathleen Grillo, Verizon, to Julius Genachowski, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, and
Commissioners McDowell, Clyburn, Rosenworcel and Pai, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Dec. 6, 2012)
(Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement). We note that the rules adopted herein are generally consistent with the Carrier-
6 Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement at 2. The Carrier-NENA-APCO agreement specified that a PSAP request was
valid if, at the time the request is made, “a) the requesting PSAP represents that it is technically ready to receive 9-1-
1 text messages in the format requested; and b) the appropriate local or State 9-1-1 service governing authority has
specifically authorized the PSAP to accept and, by extension, the signatory service provider to provide, text-to-9-1-1
service (and such authorization is not subject to dispute).” Id. The agreement also stated that, “consistent with the
draft ATIS Standard for Interim Text-to-9-1-1, the PSAPs will select the format for how messages are to be
delivered” with incremental costs for delivery being the responsibility of the PSAP. Id.
7 Id. at 3.
9 Id. (“A voluntary SMS-to-9-1-1 solution will be limited to the capabilities of the existing SMS service offered by a
participating wireless service provider on the home wireless network to which a wireless subscriber originates an
Federal Communications Commission
Also in December 2012, the Commission released a Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (Further Notice),10 which proposed, inter alia, to require all CMRS providers, as well as
interconnected text messaging providers, to support text messaging to 911 in all areas throughout the
nation where PSAPs are capable of and prepared to receive the texts.11 The Commission defined
interconnected text messaging applications as those using IP-based protocols to deliver text messages to a
service provider and the service provider then delivers the text messages to destinations identified by a
telephone number, using either IP-based or Short Message Service (SMS) protocols.12 The Further
Notice stated that “the record indicates that text-to-911 is technically feasible and can be achieved in the
near term at reasonable cost to PSAPs, CMRS providers, and providers of interconnected text.”13 The
Further Notice’s proposed requirements were based on the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement, and the
Commission sought comment on whether all CMRS providers, including regional, small and rural CMRS
providers, and all interconnected text providers could achieve these milestones in the same or similar
timeframes.14 The Further Notice noted the extent to which consumers had begun to gravitate toward IP-
based messaging applications as their primary means of communicating by text, that consumers may
reasonably come to expect these applications to also support text-to-911, and that consumer familiarity is
critical in emergency situations where each second matters.15 To that end, the Further Notice sought to
ensure consumers’ access to text-to-911 capabilities on the full array of texting applications available
today – regardless of provider or platform.16
Recognizing that text-to-911 would not be rolled out uniformly across the country or
across text messaging platforms, the Commission took steps to provide consumers with clarity regarding
the availability of text-to-911. In May 2013, the Commission issued a Report and Order requiring
covered text providers to provide consumers attempting to send a text to 911 with an automatic bounce-
back message when the service is unavailable.17 The Commission found a “clear benefit and present
need” for persons who attempt to send text messages to 911 to know immediately if their text cannot be
delivered to the proper authorities.18 The Commission noted specifically that, “[a]s these applications
(Continued from previous page)
SMS message. SMS-to-9-1-1 will not be available to wireless subscribers roaming outside of their home wireless
network. Each implementation of SMS-to-9-1-1 will be unique to the capabilities of each signatory service provider
or it’s Gateway Service Provider.”).
10 Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 and Other Next Generation 911 Applications Framework for Next
Generation 911 Deployment, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC
Rcd 15659 (2012) (Further Notice).
11 Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15660 ¶ 2.
12 Id. at 15660 ¶ 2 n. 2.
13 Id. at 15682 ¶ 58.
14 Id. at 15661 ¶ 3.
15 Id. at 15661-62 ¶ 6.
17 Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 & Other Next Generation 911 Applications, PS Docket Nos. 10-255
and 11-153, Report and Order, 28 FCC Rcd 7556 (2013) (Bounce-Back Order). On reconsideration, the
Commission clarified that the rules do not apply to text messages placed by consumers roaming on another carrier’s
network. See Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 & Other Next Generation 911 Applications, PS Dockets
11-153, 10-255, Order on Reconsideration, 28 FCC Rcd 14422 (2013).
18 Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7561 ¶ 13 (citing Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15662 ¶ 7 n. 7); Letter from
Christy Williams, 9-1-1 Program Manager, North Central Texas Council of Governments, to David S. Turetsky,
Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, PS Docket Nos. 10-255
and 11-153 (filed Nov. 1, 2012).
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proliferate, consumers are likely to assume that they should be as capable of reaching 911 as any other
In January 2014, we adopted a Policy Statement stating that the Commission believes that
every provider of a text messaging service that enables a consumer to send text messages using numbers
from the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) should support text-to-911 capabilities.20 We
clarified that the Commission intends to take a technologically neutral approach to any rules adopted for
text-to-911 service, and it encouraged voluntary agreements to support text-to-911.21
We also released a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Second Further
Notice) seeking comment on technical issues for the implementation of text-to-911 service with respect to
interconnected text providers, the provision of location information with texts to 911, and roaming
support for text-to-911 service.22 Specifically, the Second Further Notice sought comment on, inter alia,
proposed timeframes for the implementation of text-to-911 capability by CMRS providers other than the
signatory parties of the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement, as well as proposed timeframes for the
implementation of text-to-911 service by interconnected text providers; proposed message delivery
models and other implementation details for interconnected text providers; the costs associated with the
proposals; roaming and location issues; PSAP implementation of text-to-911; and a variety of legal issues
relating to text-to-911, including liability protection, waiver relief, and the treatment of voluntary
SECOND REPORT AND ORDER
As we observed in the Second Further Notice, the progress already made by the four
signatories to the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement by January 2014 “illustrates the technical feasibility”
of text-to-911 implementation for other CMRS providers, including small and rural providers, particularly
in light of adoption of the ATIS standard for text-to-911 over the SMS platform.23 Subsequent progress
reports by these four providers have served further to confirm that view,24 and over a year ago the
19 See Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7561 ¶¶ 9-13 (discussing the record evidence regarding consumer
expectations). See also Comments of Heywire, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4, 2014), at 9
(“[This] issue is . . . confused by non-interconnected text providers using terminology of providing ‘text’ing’
services and in some cases, using the person’s mobile phone number for identification purposes and/or sending an
‘authorization’ SMS message to the person’s mobile phone as part of the registration and provisioning process for
the non-interconnected provider service.”) (Heywire Second Further Notice Comments).
20 Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 & Other Next Generation 911 Applications Framework for Next
Generation 911 Deployment, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153, Policy Statement, 29 FCC Rcd 1547 (2014)
22 Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 & Other Next Generation 911 Applications Framework for Next
Generation 911 Deployment, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153, Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,
29 FCC Rcd 1547 (2014) (Second Further Notice).
23 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1552 ¶ 19.
24 See Letter from Jamie Tan, Director, Federal Regulatory, AT&T Services, Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
Federal Communications Commission (filed May 15, 2014) at 1 (stating that AT&T is now capable of supporting
text-to-911 nationwide for requesting PSAPs and is already working with PSAPs to “turn up service”); Letter from
Ray Rothermel, Counsel, Legal/Government Affairs, Sprint Corporation, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal
Communications Commission (filed May 16, 2014) at 1 (stating that Sprint now supports text-to-911 for requesting
PSAPs and is working with PSAPs who had made requests by the date of the letter); Letter from Steve B. Sharkey,
Senior Director, Federal Regulatory Policy, T-Mobile USA, Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal
Communications Commission (filed Apr. 1, 2014) at 3 (stating that T-Mobile is on track to meet its voluntary
commitment to provide text-to-911 service nationally by May 15, 2014); Letter from Kevin Green, Executive
Director, Federal Regulatory Affairs, Verizon Wireless, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications
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Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) supported the proposed deadline of December 31, 2014, as an
achievable goal.25 As we show below, there is substantial evidence in the record supporting those views,
as to both CMRS providers and interconnected text providers. Nor is there any serious question as to the
overwhelming public interest benefits to be derived from prompt implementation of text-to-911 or the
relatively minimal cost of such a requirement to covered providers and PSAPs.
Adoption of Text-to-911 Requirements
In this Second Report and Order, we require that all CMRS and interconnected text
providers (collectively, “covered text providers”) must be capable of supporting text-to-911 by December
31, 2014. “Text-to-911” refers to a service by which a consumer may send a text message to 911 in
search of emergency assistance. A 911 text message is a message, consisting of text characters, sent to
the short code “911” and intended to be delivered to a PSAP by a covered text provider, regardless of the
text messaging platform used.26 Covered text providers have six months from December 31, 2014 – i.e.,
until June 30, 2015 – to begin delivering 911 text messages to PSAPs that have submitted a valid request
for text-to-911 service on or before December 31, 2014, unless another timeframe is mutually agreed
upon by the individual PSAP and the covered text provider.27 Covered text providers have six months
from any valid PSAP request received after December 31, 2014, to commence delivery of text-to-911 for
that PSAP. In the sections below, we explain the basis for adopting text-to-911 rules, including the
significant and potentially life-saving benefits that text-to-911 affords, and set forth the scope and extent
of our text-to-911 requirements. We also show that the deadlines adopted are achievable and technically
feasible for covered text providers.
Public Policy Analysis
In the Further Notice, we sought comment on a case study concerning the costs and
benefits associated with implementing text-to-911 service.28 We also observed that the four major CMRS
providers had voluntarily agreed to implement text-to-911 capability without seeking recovery of such
costs from state or local government, which suggested that the implementation costs associated with text-
to-911 are manageable.29 Subsequently, in the Second Further Notice, we sought comment on the cost of
implementation for other covered text providers (including small and rural CMRS providers, as well as
providers of interconnected text messaging services).30
(Continued from previous page)
Commission (filed Apr. 1, 2014) at 1 (stating that Verizon remains on track to make this capability available to
capable PSAPs by the May 15, 2014 date set forth in the Voluntary Agreement).
25 Letter from Rebecca Murphy Thompson, General Counsel, Competitive Carrier Association, to Marlene H.
Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission (filed Mar. 12, 2013) at 1 (CCA March 12, 2013 Ex
Parte), cited in Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1554 ¶ 19 & n.43.
26 As with the bounce-back requirement, we clarify that legacy devices that are incapable of sending texts via three
digit short codes are not subject to our text-to-911 requirements, provided the software for these devices cannot be
upgraded over the air to allow text-to-911. See Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7582-83. If the device’s text
messaging software can be upgraded over the air to support a text to 911, however, then the covered text provider
must make the necessary software upgrade available.
27 We discuss the elements of a “valid” PSAP request below. See infra Section III.A.3, para. 51.
28 Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15686 ¶ 68.
29 Id. at 15713 ¶ 147.
30 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd 1557-58 at ¶¶ 35-36.
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Benefits of Text-to-911
Availability and Ease of Use
The effectiveness of the legacy voice 911 system is in large part derived from its ease of
use. People faced with the stress of emergency situations can communicate more quickly and effectively
when they are able to use the same ubiquitous technologies that they use for everyday communications.31
This principle, which has long been applicable to voice calling, is increasingly true for text messaging
communication as well. CTIA estimates that 2.19 trillion text messages were sent in 2012,32 and
according to the Pew Center, more than 7 out of 10 cell phone users send or receive text messages.33
Another report suggests that 91 percent of smartphone owners actively use SMS.34 Moreover, the average
in billable minutes of mobile voice use of the four major CMRS providers has declined steadily since
2009, with evidence that the decline is due to substitution of mobile voice by mobile messaging and other
mobile data services.35 Thus, as the Commission has stated before, expanding existing text technology to
support 911 will provide the public with a familiar mode of communication for emergency use,36 and we
anticipate that subscribers will continue to use text messaging at the same or a greater rate than in the
Enhanced Access for People with Disabilities
Another benefit of widespread text-to-911 availability will be enhanced access to
emergency services for people with disabilities. Currently, approximately 48 million people in the United
31See Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7561-62 ¶ 15 (citing Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15661-62 ¶ 6)
(recognizing overall trends and the expectations of all consumers using smartphones and other advanced mobile
devices that they “should be capable of reach 911 as any other telephone number” regardless of the device or
application that they use). See also Emergency Access Advisory Committee (EAAC), Report on Emergency Calling
for Persons with Disabilities, Survey Review and Analysis (July 21, 2011) at 30, Question 23 (EAAC Survey
Report). When asked how important it is that they are able to call 911 using the same device (using text, video,
voice, and/or captioned telephone) that they use to typically communicate with friends and co-workers every day,
between 86 percent and 98 percent of the EAAC survey respondents in each disability group said that it was very
important or somewhat important that they are able to call 911 using the same device they use every day. Id.
32 CTIA-The Wireless Association, Wireless Industry Summary Report, Year-End 2012 Results (2013), available at
http://www.ctia.org/resource-library/facts-and-infographics/archive/us-text-messages-sms (last accessed June 18,
33 Smith, Aaron, Pew Internet Research Project, “Americans and Text Messaging” (Sept. 19, 2011), available at
http://www.pewinternet.org/2011/09/19/americans-and-text-messaging/ (noting that 73 percent of users send or
receive text messages) (last accessed May 28, 2014).
See Press Release, “U.S. Research by Acision Shows SMS Is Still the King of Messaging With Speed, Reach and
Reliability Named as Key Reasons for Usage Over Alternative Services,” May 9, 2012, available at
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/us-research-acision-shows-sms-110000710.html (last accessed May 28, 2014).
35 Implementation of Section 6002(b) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, Annual Report and
Analysis of Competitive Market Conditions With Respect to Mobile Wireless, Including Commercial Mobile
Services, WT Docket No. 11-186, Sixteenth Report, 28 FCC Rcd 3700, 3867 ¶ 261 (2013) (Sixteenth Annual
36 Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15677 ¶ 49.
37 In fact, some people already believe they can text to 911. The North Central Texas Council of Governments
(NCTCOG) asserts that much of the public already expects to be able to use text-to-911. NCTCOG highlights that
“a recent market study…showed that approximately 1/3 of our population believe they can text 9-1-1 today.” See
Further Notice at 15676 ¶ 46, citing NCTCOG Nov. 1, 2012 Ex Parte at 1. Additionally, prime-time television
shows have featured main characters who are deaf or hard of hearing using text-to-911 to get emergency assistance.
See, e.g., ABC Family, “Switched at Birth” Season 3, Episode 7 (rel. Feb. 24, 2014).
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States are deaf or hard of hearing, and approximately 7.5 million people have speech disabilities.38
Moreover, as people age, they become more likely to encounter hearing loss, with the result that such
challenges are borne disproportionately by the elderly. For example, 18 percent of American adults
between the ages of 45-64 years old have a hearing loss, 30 percent of adults between the ages of 65-74
years have a hearing loss, and 47 percent of adults who are 75 years old or older have a hearing loss.39 By
2030, 20 percent of the population will be over 65 years old, substantially increasing the number of
Americans who may need alternatives to voice communications when trying to reach 911.40
the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that the two most common injuries among soldiers
returning from overseas are tinnitus41 and hearing loss, with more than 1,746,000 veterans receiving
compensation for these injuries in 2012.42
In the Second Further Notice, we explained that people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or
speech disabled have been consistently migrating away from specialized legacy devices, and towards
more ubiquitous forms of text messaging communications because of the ease of access, wide availability,
and practicability of modern text-capable devices.43 This migration has had the unique benefit of bringing
these users into the mainstream of our nation’s communications systems, but it also has led some
commenters to suggest that it leaves people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled without an
effective, reliable and direct means of accessing 911 services in the event of an emergency.44
The Commission’s Emergency Access Advisory Committee (EAAC) noted that
individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-disabled and need to communicate with 911 via
voice currently have no direct means of accessing 911 while mobile other than through attaching a
38 This includes individuals who have cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or
Lou Gehrig’s Disease), aphasia, Huntington’s disease, and speech disabilities such as stuttering or stammering. See,
e.g., National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, National Institutes of Health, available at
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/pages/vsl.aspx (last accessed June 24, 2014).
39 See Quick Statistics, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, available at
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/Pages/quick.aspx (last accessed May 28, 2014).
40 See Hobbs, Frank B., The Elderly Population, U.S. Census Bureau, available at
http://www.census.gov/prod/1/pop/p23-190/p23-190.pdf (noting “[a]bout 1 in 8 Americans were elderly in 1994, but
about 1 in 5 would be elderly by the year 2030”), at 2-2 (last accessed May 28, 2014).
41 Tinnitus is the medical term for the perception of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no external sound
is present. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant, and its perceived volume can range from subtle to shattering.
See American Tinnitus Association, “ATA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions,” available at
http://www.ata.org/for-patients/faqs (last accessed June 2, 2014). Tinnitus is not hearing loss, but because it
interferes with one’s ability to hear and can be exacerbated by cell phone use, tinnitus sufferers may opt to use text
messaging over voice telephony. See e.g., Torsoli, Albertina, “Prolonged Mobile Phone Use Increases Risk of Ear
Ringing, Study Indicates,” BLOOMBERG (July 7, 2010), available at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-
19/prolonged-mobile-phone-use-increases-risk-of-ear-ringing-study-indicates.html (last accessed June 25, 2014).
42 See U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Annual Benefits Report for FY 2012 at 18, available at
http://www.benefits.va.gov/reports/abr/2012_abr.pdf (last accessed May 28, 2014). See also Briggs, Bill, “Hearing
Loss the Most Prevalent Injury among Returning Veterans,” NBC NEWS (Nov. 13, 2012), available at
veterans?lite (last accessed May 28, 2014).
43 Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 13629-30 ¶ 36.
44 See, e.g., Comments of Richard L. Ray, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Dec. 12, 2011), at 1-2;
Comments of King County E911 Program, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Dec. 13, 2011), at 3;
Comments of Consumer Groups, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Dec. 12, 2011), at 3; Comments of
Krystalo Tziallila, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Dec. 12, 2011), at 1.
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separate teletype (TTY) device to their cellphone.45 However, the vast majority of people who are deaf,
hard of hearing, or speech-disabled has discarded TTYs or has never acquired or used a “mobile” TTY,
and thus no longer has a practicable means of directly accessing 911.46 Nevertheless, the EAAC found
that many individuals who are deaf have service plans that include SMS.47 One key finding of the EAAC
is that “individuals with disabilities should be able to call 9-1-1 using the same means they use for
Today, in the absence of text-to-911, individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech
disabled and who do not use TTYs have no other feasible option but to rely on telecommunications relay
services (TRS) to access 911 emergency services,49 unless they are with another individual who can make
a voice call on their behalf. Text-based relay services usually transmit the emergency text message first
to a communications assistant (CA), who then places a call to the PSAP. The CA then relays the
conversation between the individual and the PSAP, by voicing all text that is typed by the person with a
disability to the PSAP call taker and typing the call taker’s responses to the caller.50 Many have criticized
TRS as serving only as an indirect means of emergency access that can result in delays and translation
45 Emergency Access Advisory Committee, Report and Recommendations (Dec. 7, 2011) at 29 (EAAC Report).
The EAAC was required to make its recommendations to the Commission by December 7, 2011, which the
Commission was then empowered to implement by regulation. See infra Section III.F (discussion the Commission’s
legal authority). A TTY, also sometimes called a “TDD,” is a text device that employs graphic communication in
the transmission of coded signals through a wire or radio communication system. See 47 CFR § 64.601(22);
Telecommunications Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities and the Americans with
Disabilities Act, Report and Order and Request for Comments, 6 FCC Rcd 4657 at 4657 ¶ 1, n.1 (1991).
46 But see Emergency Access Advisory Committee, Report on TTY Transition (rel. Mar. 2013) at 14 (outlining
reasons for retaining the TTY until there is an appropriate substitute. For instance, deaf-blind individuals may not
have other communication solutions available at this time).
47 EAAC Report at 29.
48 Id. at 30.
49 See 47 U.S.C. § 225, codifying the requirement in Title IV of the ADA for the Commission to establish a
nationwide TRS program. This program has been in place since 1993. See generally 47 C.F.R. § 64.601 et seq.
50 Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 13638 ¶ 27. There are various other types of TRS, including video relay services, by
which individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled can relay messages through CAs who know sign
language, and speech-to-speech TRS, by which individuals with speech disabilities can communicate with other
parties through CAs who are trained to understand difficult-to-understand speech. Telecommunications Relay
Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, Report and Order,
Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, CC Docket 90-571, CC Docket 98-67, CG
Docket 03-123, 19 FCC Rcd 12224 (2004) and Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services
for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, CC Docket No. 98-67, CG Docket No. 03-123, 18 FCC Rcd 12823 (2003).
51 Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15679 ¶ 53; see also BRETSA Second Further Notice Comments at 33-34 (“Relay
Services are neither staffed nor equipped to handle 9-1-1 communications, including to provide voice-relay of text
messages.”). Consumer Groups has previously noted that IP Relay, one text form of TRS, has not been widely
embraced by the deaf and hard of hearing community for emergency services for a number of reasons, including the
relatively long length of time it takes to reach a relay operator and then get to the correct PSAP, the fact that the call
could arrive on a non-emergency line, and the possibility of mistakes by the CA in the relaying of the call. See, e.g.,
Reply Comments of Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc.; Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Consumer Advocacy Network; Association of Late-Deafened Adults, Inc.; Deaf Seniors of America; National
Association of the Deaf; Hearing Loss Association of America; Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Organization;
Communication Service for the Deaf; and California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
(collectively, “Consumer Groups”), PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Feb. 9, 2012) at 3-4, citing Comments
Federal Communications Commission
In the Further Notice, the Commission stated that the record in this proceeding and the
EAAC Report had already shown that a significant number of people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or
speech disabled will benefit from the ability to directly send a text message to 911 from any device that is
text-capable.52 Moreover, enabling direct text messaging to 911 by the many people who are deaf, hard of
hearing, or speech disabled will allow them to use mass market communication devices that have more
advanced and increasingly evolving capabilities. While some commenters have been less supportive of
SMS-to-911 because it does not support real-time text53 – i.e., the ability to send and receive text
simultaneously with the time that it is typed without having to press a “send” key – they have given some
support to SMS as a viable near-term solution because of its ease of use for people with disabilities and
ubiquity in mainstream society.54 Respondents to the EAAC survey expressed a clear preference for
calling a PSAP using the same technology that they use on a daily basis.55 Furthermore, 87.7 percent of
EAAC respondents reported having used SMS text messaging and 46.1 percent reported having used
SMS text messaging “almost every day.”56
Alternative Means of Emergency Communication for the
The ability to send text messages to 911 also will provide important benefits as an
alternative means of emergency communication for the general public. Recent events, as well as the
record in this proceeding, reflect that there are situations where being able to send a text message to 911
as opposed to placing a voice call could be vital to the caller’s safety. For example, in the 2007 shooting
incident at Virginia Tech, a number of students attempted unsuccessfully to send SMS text messages to
(Continued from previous page)
of the Hearing Speech and Deafness Center, PS Dockets Nos. 11-153, 10-255, at 1-2 (Dec. 12, 2011) (Stating that
“[O]ften it would take average 4 Or 5 minutes to connect to 9-1-1 agencies” for calls using IP Relay services).
52 Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15680 ¶ 54.
53 See, e.g., Reply Comments of Wireless RERC, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 5, 2013) at 8,
quoting Comments of NENA, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Mar. 11, 2013) at 19 (NENA Further
Notice Comments)(“The real-time, character-by-character nature of TTY is preferred over message-based text
services by many in the deaf and hard of hearing community for its more conversational flow.”).
54 See, e.g., Comments of Consumer Groups, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Feb. 2, 2012), at 9 (“There is
considerable support in the deaf, deaf-blind, late deafened, and hard of hearing community and among people with
speech disabilities for the use of SMS because most people are familiar with SMS technology”). See also NENA
Further Notice Comments at 5 (“The prevailing consumer text mode in the U.S. is SMS; this is also the most
interoperable, working between nearly every device on every U.S. network”); Comments of King County E911
Program, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 9, 2013),at 4 (stating that it is “definitely the case” that the
rapid growth in popularity of SMS messaging has generated consumer expectations that SMS will support 911
texting). Like TTY text, real-time text would allow character-by-character or word-by-word transmission of
conversations with PSAP personnel as they are typed, which various parties to this proceeding have claimed is
necessary for the instantaneous communication required in an emergency situation. See e.g., Consumer Groups
Further Notice Reply Comments at 13, n.36; NENA Further Notice Comments at 19-20. See also EAAC Survey
Report at 23, Question 16 and 42, Question 29; EAAC Report, Recommendations P6.5, T2.2. While the
Commission continues to explore the feasibility of real-time text capabilities for 911, we believe that the adoption of
a text–to-911 requirement provides an important interim step in responding to the emergency access needs of people
who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled.
55 EAAC Report, Recommendation P1.2 at 19 (noting that in an emergency, people turn to what is known, and are
not in a position to use something new); see also Consumer Groups Reply Comments at 10.
56 EAAC Survey Report at 18, Question 11. Of 2,941 survey respondents, 1,614 respondents, or 55 percent,
answered they have a cell phone with a wireless data plan in at least one setting. Of these 1,614 respondents, 1,300
respondents, or 44 percent, have a cell phone with a wireless data plan at home, 524 respondents, or 18 percent, have
a cell phone with a wireless data plan through work, and 935 respondents, or 32 percent, have a cell phone with a
wireless data plan for traveling or commuting. See also Wireless RERC Further Notice Comments at 3.
Federal Communications Commission
911, so as not to be heard and located by the shooter.57 During the course of Black Hawk County, Iowa’s
text-to-911 trial, text messaging has been used in domestic and child abuse situations in which the victim
feared that the suspect would overhear the call to 911.58 Vermont’s text-to-911 trial also demonstrated
text-to-911’s efficacy in cases involving suicide and domestic violence.59
Text-to-911 can also provide a means of access to 911 when voice networks are
compromised or congested.60 In large-scale disasters, for example, landline and mobile voice networks
may become overloaded, making it difficult to place a 911 voice call. In such cases, it may be much more
likely for SMS and IP-based text messages to 911 still to be successfully transmitted because they
consume far less bandwidth than voice and, given the packet-switched nature of text messages, can take
advantage of alternate spectrum resources and traffic channels.61 In other words, people in disaster areas
may still be able to send text messages to 911 even if they cannot place a voice call.62
Estimated Valuation of Benefits Floor
In an effort to quantify the benefits associated with text-to-911, we conducted a cost-
benefit analysis of the potential effect of text-to-911 specifically in the area of cardiac emergencies – a
category that represents less than 10 percent of 911 calls but for which detailed statistical information is
As detailed in the Further Notice, even when we limit our analysis of benefits to this subset
of total emergencies, we find that the potential benefits floor for text-to-911 for just this one category of
911 calls is $63.7 million annually, solely based on potential use by the population with the most severe
57 See Pinto, Barbara and Tejada, Alicia, “Could Being Able to Text 911 Save Lives?”, ABC NEWS (Mar. 27,
2011), available at http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/text-911-save-lives/story?id=13235321 (last accessed May
29, 2014). Had these messages gone through, first responders might have arrived on the scene faster with firsthand
intelligence about the life-threatening situation that was unfolding.
58 Reply Comments of Black Hawk County, Iowa, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Feb. 2, 2012), at 3
(“The calls we have received range from domestic abuse situations where the victim was fearful for her life if the
suspect overheard her calling 911, to a child texting 911 because they were being abused by a parent. In one
particular case, a domestic abuse victim’s ability to text 911 resulted in no harm coming to her and the suspect being
arrested on a violation of a no contact order.”)(Black Hawk County Notice Reply Comments). Likewise, there may
be times when a loud noise may prevent a caller with tinnitus or a mild or temporary hearing loss – who generally
can use voice telephone services – from being able to hear responses from a 911 call taker. In this situation, the
ability to send a text message would provide a useful alternative for such an individual.
59 See Letter from David H. Tucker, Executive Director, Vermont E9-1-1 Board, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
Federal Communications Commission, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Aug. 27, 2012) at 2 (Vermont
Aug. 27, 2012 Ex Parte).
60 See, e.g., http://www.fcc.gov/guides/emergency-communications.
61 In a packet-switched network, the delivery of text messaging packets may be somewhat delayed if the
communication channel is highly congested, whereas voice calls would be blocked in a circuit-switched network.
TCS has previously noted that “[i]n situations in which a high 9-1-1 call volume results in blocked calls to the PSAP
or situations in which the wireless infrastructure capacity is impacted such that placing voice calls is difficult or
impossible, SMS communications to a PSAP may provide the only reasonable communications method to
emergency services. “Letter from Kim Robert Scovill, Esq., Senior Director, Legal, Government, and Regulatory
Affairs, TeleCommunication Systems, Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission,
PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Nov. 9, 2012), at 2 (TCS Nov. 9, 2012 Ex Parte).
62 See Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15682 ¶ 57; Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 13631-32 ¶ 41.
63 Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15686 ¶ 68. A 2002 study of 911 calls in Pennsylvania found that cardiac
emergency calls account for less than 20 percent of medical emergency calls and less than 10 percent of total
emergency calls. See Athey, Susan and Stern, Scott, “The Impact of Information Technology on Emergency,” The
RAND Journal of Economics, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Autumn 2002), available at
http://kuznets.fas.harvard.edu/~athey/itemer.pdf (last accessed on July 8, 2014) (Cardiac Study).
Federal Communications Commission
hearing and speech disabilities.64 These life-saving benefits provide a useful reference point for assessing
the importance of timely and effective 911 communications to response time and positive outcomes for
We emphasize that these benefits for cardiac emergencies represent only a subset of the
total benefits that will be generated by text-to-911. And no commenter claims that text-to-911 will not
yield these benefits. Moreover, the record reflects numerous other benefits that are less quantifiable but
that may result in similar or even more substantial benefits.66 These benefits, though not specifically
quantifiable, provide convincing evidence that the aggregate benefits of text-to-911 will significantly
exceed the specific benefits quantified here.
Few commenters questioned our cost-benefit analysis from the Further Notice. T-Mobile
submitted that it is “concerned about the Commission’s reliance on the Cardiac Study,” but offered no
alternative calculation of benefits or evidence that the Commission’s estimate was unreasonable.67 APCO
has previously argued that cost-benefit analyses “can obscure inherently qualitative social benefits” and
urged the Commission “to resist the temptation to rely on [the Further Notice’s] analysis in its final
decision, as it could establish a dangerous precedent for future matters involving public safety.” 68 We
agree with APCO that relying on cost-benefit analyses may result in the subordination of important public
policy objectives to market forces. We recognize that public safety interests are not driven solely by
economic considerations. However, in this instance, our cost-benefit analysis and public policy
objectives dictate the same result.
The record indicates that the cost for CMRS providers to implement a text-to-911
solution is significantly less than the benefits floor discussed above. By one estimate, the total cost for all
64 Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15688 ¶ 71. By “benefits floor,” we mean the minimum amount of benefits likely
to be provided by text-to-911 services.
65 Using contemporary Census data, the Further Notice limited its estimate to those most severe hearing and speech
disabilities, and estimated that the total number of expected lives saved by text-to-911 from cardiac incidents alone
would be approximately 29 lives. The Commission discounted the number of expected lives saved by roughly half,
based on the assumption that in half the cases the disabled person could rely on a speaking person to make the 911
call. This is a conservative assumption, because it assumes that a disabled person never saves a life by using text-to-
911 to help a non-disabled cardiac victim. No commenter challenged this estimate when we sought comment on this
case study in the Further Notice. See Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15688 ¶ 71 n. 177. The United States
Department of Transportation presently estimates the value of a statistical life (VSL) at $9.1 million. See
Memorandum from Polly Trottenberg, Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, and Robert S. Rivkin, General
Counsel, to Secretarial Officers and Modal Administrators, U.S. Department of Transportation, “Treatment of the
Economic Value of a Statistical Life in Departmental Analysis” (Feb. 28, 2013). The Department of Transportation
defines VSL as “the additional cost that individuals would be willing to bear for improvements in safety (that is,
reductions in risks) that, in the aggregate, reduce the expected number of fatalities by one.” Id. at 2.
66 For example, Black Hawk County and Vermont have cited concrete examples where text-to-911 enabled callers
who could not make a voice call for safety reasons to successfully reach 911. See Black Hawk County Notice
Comments at 3. (“The calls we have received range from domestic abuse situations where the victim was fearful for
her life if the suspect overheard her calling 911, to a child texting 911 because they were being abused by a parent.
In one particular case, a domestic abuse victim’s ability to text 911 resulted in no harm coming to her and the
suspect being arrested on a violation of a no contact order.”) See also Vermont Aug. 27, 2012 Ex Parte at 2.
67 Comments of T-Mobile USA, Inc., PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Mar.11, 2013) at 4 n.8 (T-Mobile
Further Notice Comments).
68 Comments of APCO International, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Mar. 11, 2013), at 3 (APCO Further
Federal Communications Commission
CMRS providers to implement text-to-911 nationwide will be approximately $4 million annually over a
period of five years (totaling $20 million).69 At $20 million for the five year projection, this five year
total cost is approximately one-third the annual potential benefits floor of $63.7 million. Thus,
considering the total estimated $20 million implementation cost of text-to-911, we expect that this cost
will be far exceeded by the program’s estimated benefits floor in the first year of text-to-911 deployment
In the Second Further Notice, we sought comment on the specific costs of requiring
CMRS providers – other than those that are a party to the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement – to support
text-to-911 service.71 We noted that small and rural CMRS providers may be able to achieve cost savings
in their implementation by leveraging some of the text-to-911 infrastructure that would be in place by
May 15, 2014,72 given that the four major CMRS providers would be providing text-to-911 by this date.
With regard to the cost of text-to-911 solutions for smaller CMRS providers, TCS states
that “[t]ypically text-to-911 vendors price their services in such a way as to scale with the size of a
potential carrier customer’s network. For instance, a provider may price its services on a per-cell-site
basis or a per-PSAP basis. This then allows carriers of all sizes to purchase text-to-911 solutions at a cost
relative to their size.”73 NTCA supports our proposed December 31, 2014 implementation deadline.74
Nevertheless, NTCA argues that “[s]ome rural carriers will require, at a minimum, a six-month window to
be able to … purchase and install new equipment prior to providing text-to-911 service. The systems are
expensive, especially when viewed in light of a small rural wireless carrier’s limited operation and
resources. Rural carriers would prefer … only purchasing the new equipment once a PSAP has declared
that [it] is ready able to accept text messages from the public.”75 NTCA further argues that “if carriers are
required to upgrade and purchase new equipment before their local PSAPs have declared that they are
ready for text-to-911 service, the service provider will incur a loss for the value of money and the early
use of the product warranty. Rural wireless subscribers also will have to prematurely bear the costs of the
69 See Comments of Intrado, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Dec. 12, 2011), at 16-17 (Intrado Notice
Comments); Letter from Lynn A. Stang, Senior Director, Regulatory & Government Affairs, Assistant General
Counsel, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission , PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-
153 (filed Feb. 6, 2012) at 17 (Intrado Feb. 7, 2012 Ex Parte). Intrado presents three cost estimates to deploy text-
to-911: nationwide by all carriers to all PSAPs; in 18 states by all carriers to one PSAP each; all carriers to one
PSAP per state. Under each model, the carriers’ total five year cost does not vary. Intrado’s estimates are based on
deployment of a direct SMS-to-911 capability, including modifications to carriers’ short message service centers,
location acquisition, session management, and functional responsibilities associated with message routing to the
correct PSAP. The cost model does not include costs associated with IP connectivity expense, support for display of
texts on existing TTY equipment, or use of existing voice relay solutions to convey text message to a PSAP. Intrado
Notice Comments at 14-15. See also Letter from Greg Rogers, Deputy General Counsel, Bandwidth, to Marlene H.
Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed June 18, 2012),
Att. at 3 (noting a “Total 3 year budgetary price between $4.5 [million] and $12.0 [million]”); Further Notice, 27
FCC Rcd at 15686 at ¶ 66.
70 As discussed above, we estimate the benefits floor for the first year of implementation of text-to-911 is $63.7
71 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1552 ¶ 19.
72 Id. (“Indeed, small and rural providers may be able to achieve cost savings in their implementation by leveraging
some of the text-to-911 databases and other infrastructure that text-to-911 vendors will have in place by May 15,
2014 to support provision of text-to-911 by the four major providers.”).
73 Comments of TCS, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed April 4, 2014) at 4 (TCS Second Further Notice
74 Comments of NTCA, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4. 2014), at 1 (NTCA Second Further Notice
75 NTCA Second Further Notice Comments at 2-3.
Federal Communications Commission
equipment upgrades, a stiff price if the PSAP is not yet ready to offer the service to the public.”76 NTCA
contends that the costs to PSAPs to become text-ready “are apt to be great,” but does not provide specific
We recognize that small and rural CMRS providers may face a comparatively larger
financial burden in complying with our text-to-911 requirements than larger CMRS providers, and would
prefer not to make the investment necessary for providing text-to-911 service until PSAPs have declared
that they are ready for it. As noted below, however, we believe that the deadline we adopt in this Second
Report and Order will encourage PSAPs to commit the necessary system upgrades necessary to make
text-to-911 available more promptly. We also find that these costs are justified in light of the significant
benefits. We expect, however, that once the initial implementation costs have been incurred to implement
the system, CMRS providers’ recurring costs of carrying text-to-911 traffic will be negligible, because it
is a relatively small part of the network and will place only negligible demands on network capacity that
is designed to handle larger volumes of voice and data services. Moreover, given the magnitude of public
benefits at stake compared to the costs, we believe that the minimal cost burden for small and rural
CMRS providers to implement text-to-911 is justified.
Interconnected Text Providers
In the Second Further Notice, we provided our own estimates and sought comment on the
associated costs for implementing each of the four delivery models for interconnected text providers and
any other potential initial or ongoing costs of implementation.78
In response, several commenters
provided dollar estimates for the anticipated costs of implementation of text-to-911 by interconnected text
providers that were relatively consistent with our estimates. For example, VON Coalition states that
“[t]he costs of designing, implementing and validating [software] updates” that would be used with the
CMRS network-based solution “would likely be in the range of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars
per i-text application.”79 Heywire states that while the costs of implementation are indeterminate at this
point, it estimates the cost of the CMRS network-based model at “approximately US $5,000 per mobile
client (e.g. – Apple iOS, Google Android, Microsoft WinPhone, etc.), including any variations of
[operating system (OS)] from the common base for mobile hardware extensions, with ongoing
maintenance costs that is variable dependent upon any changes in subsequent future evolutions of the
mobile OS and associated API to adapt to such.”80 Motorola Mobility notes that “[f]rom the perspective
of the device manufacturer, there is little to no additional cost to supporting interconnected OTT
originating text-to-911 once a sufficiently capable API is deployed.”81 Heywire also notes that spam and
denial of service (DoS) attacks may also affect costs to interconnected text providers.82
76 Id. at 3.
77 Id. at 5, citing Comments of Blooston Rural Carriers, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Jan. 29, 2013), at
2 (Blooston Rural Carriers Further Notice Comments).
78 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1557 ¶ 35. With respect to the delivery model premised on a texting
application’s use of a mobile device’s native SMS application programming interface (SMS API), we estimated that
a text-to-911 requirement would impose an implementation cost of approximately $4,500 per provider per platform,
for an industry-wide cost of approximately $555,000. Id. We arrived at this estimate using the Constructive Cost
Model II (CoCoMo II), which can provide an estimate of the cost, effort, and schedule for planning new software
development activity. Id.
79 Comments of VON Coalition, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4. 2014) at 5 (VON Coalition
Second Further Notice Comments).
80 Heywire Second Further Notice Comments at 4-5.
81 Comments of Motorola Mobility, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4, 2014), at 3-4 (Motorola
Mobility Second Further Notice Comments).
82 Heywire Second Further Notice Comments at 6.
Federal Communications Commission
On the other hand, Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) argues that “the
FNPRM significantly underestimates these compliance costs.”83 ITIC does not provide actual cost
estimates, noting that these are proprietary. However, it states that “the average price quotes from third
party technology providers have been approximately $.50 to $1/user/year – which must be multiplied by
potentially millions of individuals using a texting application.”84 textPlus agrees with ITIC’s estimate,
and further argues that “[t]ypically, the provider of a communications platform would simply pass on
these additional costs to its customers. However, the vast number of textPlus users choose the service
because it is offered as a free download. If textPlus was required to charge even $1 to download the
textPlus app … textPlus anticipates that its users would choose or simply migrate to other free, non-
interconnected OTT text messaging providers or messaging apps that offer a more limited
functionality…”85 CenturyLink, which plans to become an interconnected text provider, makes a similar
argument that “there is no certainty that the cost of creating the ability to do even a rudimentary text-to-
911 capability could be absorbed in the product price and still be a VoIP offering attractive to our
While we recognize that the text-to-911 requirements we adopt today will impose costs
on interconnected text providers, we believe those costs are reasonable, particularly in light of the
significant public safety benefits of providing text-to-911 service. We find that our proposed cost
estimates for implementation of text-to-911 by interconnected text providers are supported by the record.
To the extent parties such as ITIC and textPlus disagree, they have failed to support their claims with any
For example, ITIC does not reveal how comprehensive the price disclosures
were, or who provided the estimates, or how they would scale over such a large volume of users.
such, we are unpersuaded by ITIC’s unsubstantiated and vague estimates. Finally, neither ITIC nor
textPlus explain why our methodology is unreasonable.88
Ultimately, we realize that imposing text-to-
911 requirements is not without a cost to these providers. At the same time, however, we find that these
costs are justified and reasonable in light of the fundamental public interest benefits to be gained, the need
to provision text-to-911 service to ensure that all Americans have access to emergency services, and the
increasing reliance on OTT text applications.
We also emphasize that costs likely will vary based on the particular text-to-911 solution
an interconnected text provider chooses to implement. Because text traffic in the CMRS network-based
delivery model would be routed over CMRS networks, there should be little cost to interconnected text
83 Comments of Information Technology Industry Council, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4. 2014)
at 5 (ITIC Second Further Notice Comments).
84 ITIC Second Further Notice Comments at 5.
85 Reply Comments of textPlus, Inc., PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed May 5, 2014) at 6 (textPlus Second
Further Notice Reply Comments). “Over-the-top” (OTT) generally refers to applications that operate on Internet
protocol (IP)-based mobile data networks and that consumers can typically install on data-capable mobile devices.
In contrast, SMS requires use of an underlying carrier’s SMS Center (SMSC) to send and receive messages from
other users. Multi-media Messaging Service (MMS)-based messaging makes use of the SMSC but also involves the
use of different functional elements to enable transport of the message over IP networks. OTT text applications
enable consumers to send text messages using SMS, MMS or directly via IP over a data connection to dedicated
messaging servers and gateways. OTT texting applications may be provided by the underlying mobile CMRS
provider or a non-affiliated third-party, and may be “interconnected” or “non-interconnected.” See Second Further
Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1549 ¶ 6 n. 14; Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd 7556.
86 Comments of CenturyLink, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4. 2014) at 4 (CenturyLink Second
Further Notice Comments).
87 See supra notes 84-85.
88 Similarly, CenturyLink concedes that it has obtained no cost information, that it cannot reasonably predict those
costs, and that it is not in a position to address the relevance or accuracy of the Commission’s cost estimate.
CenturyLink Second Further Notice Comments at 4 & n.9.
Federal Communications Commission
providers to support text-to-911. However, as discussed further below, we believe that the question of
reasonable compensation may be resolved through direct billing of the underlying user through his or her
SMS plan, or through business arrangements between interconnected text providers and CMRS
providers.89 We remind CMRS providers of our fundamental view that text-to-911 will provide
significant benefits to all consumers.
Finally, we agree with parties who argue that supporting text-to-911 must be factored into
the general cost of doing business and that “the provision of emergency services to their customers is not
an optional feature, it is necessary infrastructure.”90 Accordingly, we find that the costs of
implementation by interconnected text providers are outweighed by the public interest benefits in
ensuring that Americans have access to emergency services through interconnected text messaging.
Based on the record in this proceeding, the success of various text-to-911 trials, and the
recent modest increase in PSAP adoption,91 we find that our text-to-911 rules will not impose an undue
burden on PSAP operations. First, PSAPs retain discretion as to whether it will accept text messages.
We strongly encourage PSAPs to implement text-to-911 in their jurisdictions and expect that consumer
demand and considerations of public safety will drive this investment. 92 Investments made now by
PSAPs and covered text providers to support text-to-911 can also be leveraged to support future NG911
deployments and, accordingly, serve as building blocks towards an IP-based emergency network.
Second, PSAPs have several options for the receipt of text messages, including options that will impose
minimal costs on the PSAP. 93 For example, while some PSAPs may choose to implement text-to-911
using existing equipment, such as existing NG911 customer-premises equipment (CPE), web browsers, or
TTY terminals, other PSAPs may choose to upgrade their equipment to receive text messages in a manner
that will also support additional data once in an NG911 environment. Third, PSAPs that have already
implemented text-to-911 or participated in text trials have provided anecdotal evidence that texts to 911
will not likely overwhelm any PSAP and that text-to-911 service saves lives.94
89 Comments of Verizon and Verizon Wireless, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4. 2014) at 9-10
(Verizon Second Further Notice Comments) (stating that the Commission has long since allowed for Verizon’s
established relationships with third party vendors like Intrado and TCS to be governed by unregulated commercial
negotiations and contractual relationships, which has resulted in the efficient deployment of wireless E911 Phase I
and Phase II service nationwide, and there is no basis for the Commission to conclude that a similar framework will
not work for interconnected text providers in this context).
90 Comments of NASNA, PS Docket Nos.10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 2, 2014), at 3 (NASNA Second Further
91 The signatory parties to the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement have been text-to-911 capable since at least May
15, 2014. There are currently 121 PSAPs that are “text ready,” 48 of which have implemented text-to-911 on or
after May 15, 2014. For information on current text-to-911 deployments, see
(last accessed August 7, 2014).
92 We note that, with respect to the provision of disability accessible emergency services, PSAPs are under the
purview of the U.S. Department of Justice, in accordance with directives in Title II of the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990.
93 See BRETSA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 8-9 (“The availability of the TDD and browser solutions
for text-to-911 at little or no cost to the PSAP . . . means that there are no or very low barriers to implementation [to
PSAPs of text-to-911].”); Bandwidth Second Further Notice Comments at 2 (“Leveraging non-discriminatory access
to collective industry investments in network solutions can dramatically lower the implementation costs for
interconnected OTT providers so that concerns about costs should not be a long-term impediment[.]”).
94 See, e.g., Letter from David Tucker, Executive Director, Vermont E911 Board, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
Federal Communications Commission (filed Nov. 13, 2013) (Vermont Nov. 13, 2013 Ex Parte); Comments of
Black Hawk County, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Feb. 2, 2012) at 2-4; Letter from James T. Soukup,
Emergency Communications Director, City of Durham, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications
Federal Communications Commission
As we note above, we conclude that the benefits floor for the first year of text-to-911 is
$63.7 million. Balanced against the cost estimates in the record, the implementation of text-to-911 will
provide substantial benefits both for people with disabilities and the general public in a variety of
scenarios. In addition to the life-saving benefits discussed above, implementing text-to-911 could yield
other benefits, such as reduced property losses and increased probability of apprehending criminal
suspects.95 We note that text-to-911 is not a market-driven service. However, we find that there is
demand for the service from deaf, hard of hearing, and speech-disabled individuals, and to date, the
marketplace has not responded to this demand. Accordingly, we find that adopting text-to-911
requirements for covered text providers is justified given this cost-benefit analysis.
Delivery of Text-to-911 by all Covered Text Providers
We adopt a two-step obligation for covered text providers to implement text-to-911. All
covered text providers must be capable of supporting text-to-911, independent of whether they have
received a PSAP request, by December 31, 2014. Then, covered text providers would have six months
from the date that an individual PSAP provides notice that it is “text-ready” to undertake necessary
network and protocol configuration to deliver texts to an individual PSAP.
As in the Bounce-Back Order, we define “covered text providers” to include all CMRS
providers, as well as all providers of interconnected text messaging services that enable consumers to
send text messages to and receive text messages from all or substantially all text-capable U.S. telephone
numbers, including through the use of applications downloaded or otherwise installed on mobile phones.96
(Continued from previous page)
Commission (filed June 2, 2012) at 1-2; Letter from James T. Soukup, Emergency Communications Director, City
of Durham, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission (filed Nov. 6, 2012) at 1-2.
95 For example, property losses may be reduced if text-to-911 is used to promptly inform authorities of a fire,
thereby enabling the fire department to reach the emergency sooner. Indeed, if individuals who are deaf, hard of
hearing, or speech disabled have direct access to 911, they may be more likely to report emergencies as they happen.
Prior to the implementation of text-to-911, such individuals may be disinclined to use TTY equipment or may be
unable to use it while outside the home and lack access to reach 911 altogether. Implementing text-to-911 unlocks
the potential for this community to more actively participate in reporting emergencies.
96 See 47 C.F.R. § 20.18(n)(1); see also Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7606. We exclude text messaging
services that use U.S. telephone numbers for administrative or identification purposes only, but that are not
interconnected. See VON Coalition Second Further Notice Comments at 3. We also exclude relay service
providers, mobile satellite service (MSS), and in-flight text messaging services from the scope of our requirements
at this time. Sprint, a major IP relay provider, states that “relay services are not delivered via SMS and should
remain separate until a more robust, reliable text-to-911 messaging service becomes available . . . .” Comments of
Sprint Corporation, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4, 2014), at 8-9 (Sprint Second Further Notice
Comments). Likewise, disability groups oppose incorporating relay services into a text-to-911 mandate. See, e.g.,
Reply Comments of Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access, PS Docket Nos.
10-255 and 11-153 (filed May 5, 2014), at 7-8 (RERC-TA Second Further Notice Reply Comments); Reply
Comments of Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed May
5, 2014), at 3-4 (Wireless RERC Second Further Notice Reply Comments). We also agree that airborne text-to-911
communications presents particular challenges, due to the unique nature of in-flight service, and that MSS is a
specialized offering with a focus on enterprise and government users. We therefore exclude these services from the
scope of our text-to-911 requirements. See Comments of Gogo, Inc., PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr.
4, 2014), at 2-6; Reply Comments of Inmarsat, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed May 5, 2014), at 1-3;
Reply Comments of Iridium Constellation, LLC, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed May 5, 2014), at 2-5.
Finally, we exclude from our requirements at this time 911 text messages that originate from Wi-Fi only locations or
that are transmitted from devices that cannot access the CMRS network. See Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at
1553 ¶ 20. We defer consideration of whether to extend text-to-911 requirements to these services until a future
Federal Communications Commission
We find that imposing the same requirements and deadlines to both CMRS and interconnected text
messaging service providers is necessary to serve the public interest.97 The scope we adopt today is
particularly important given existing and predicted future trends toward greater use of non-CMRS
applications for texting,98 and in light of our recognition that the transition to NG911 “is still in the early
Thus, as NENA has noted, the Commission’s proposals “represent the logical next steps aimed
at sustaining this momentum and minimizing consumer confusion about the availability and
functionality” of text-to-911.100
One of the Commission’s mandates under the Twenty-First Century Communications and
Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) is to expand access to emergency communications for
individuals with disabilities.101 In order for the Commission to achieve this goal, it is necessary to include
both CMRS and providers of interconnected text messaging services within the scope of the requirement.
Many interconnected text providers offer the same functions as CMRS-provided text messaging; for this
reason, individuals with disabilities may opt for such a service in lieu of a CMRS-based text messaging
plan or may rarely or never use the built-in CMRS text messaging capability. In such cases, if
interconnected text providers are not required to support text-to-911, these individuals may remain
unaware of the potential availability of this capability through CMRS providers, or find it difficult to
navigate to any such capability during emergency situations where time is critical.
Second, imposing the same requirements on both CMRS and interconnected text
providers will respond to consumers’ reasonable expectations and reduce consumer confusion. In
response to the Second Further Notice, AT&T states that “the exclusion of OTT texting services would
deprive a large number of texters without a Text-to-911 solution, because as the Commission itself notes
such ‘applications are growing increasingly popular and have already eclipsed [SMS] text messages
provided by wireless carriers in terms of volume.’”102 TCS notes that “a consumer does not usually think
about scenarios involving the need to access emergency services when focusing on communications
purchases; but that same consumer has expectations that his communication services will access the
public safety infrastructure in those rare cases when such access is critical.”103
As noted above,
97 While we encouraged parties to come forward and voluntarily commit to providing text-to-911 in our Policy
Statement in January 2014, thereby foregoing the need to adopt a regulatory mandate, no new voluntary agreements
or commitments to provide text-to-911 among CMRS providers or interconnected text providers have materialized.
We therefore believe it is both appropriate and necessary to take regulatory action at this time.
98 See Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15692-95 ¶¶ 82-89. See infra note 102. As the Commission has noted,
mobile data traffic (which excludes SMS-based texts) has been growing significantly. Sixteenth Annual Competition
Report, 28 FCC Rcd at 3871 ¶ 263 & table 36.
99 Legal and Regulatory Framework for Next Generation 911 Services, Report to Congress and Recommendations,
at § 3.1.2 (Feb. 22, 2013), available at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-319165A1.pdf (last
accessed Aug. 11, 2014).
100 Comments of NENA, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4, 2014), at 1-2 (NENA Second Further
Notice Comments). See also Reply Comments of NENA, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed June 5, 2014),
at 2 (NENA Second Further Notice Reply Comments) (reiterating NENA’s support for the text-to-911 Policy
Statement adopted by the Commission earlier this year, while also viewing text-to-911 as “a temporary, interim
solution, prior to the availability of NG9-1-1 compatible text messaging services”).
101 The CVAA amended the Telecommunications Act of 1934, stating that the Commission shall “promulgate such
regulations as are necessary to implement this section,” including “performance objectives to ensure the
accessibility, usability, and compatibility of advanced communications services and the equipment used for
advanced communications services by individuals with disabilities….” See Twenty-First Century Communications
and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Pub. L. 111-260, Oct. 8, 2010, 124 Stat. 2751 (CVAA).
102 Comments of AT&T Mobility, Inc., PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4. 2014) at 2 (AT&T Second
Further Notice Comments), citing Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1548 ¶ 6.
103 TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 20.
Federal Communications Commission
consumers may incorrectly assume that unavailability of text-to-911 through OTT texting services upon
which they rely would be replicated on the CMRS native text platform, or face critical delays in
determining how to migrate to that platform in an emergency.
Technical Feasibility and the “Text-Capable” Deadline
We find that it is technically feasible for all covered text providers to be capable of
supporting text-to-911. Given that all covered text providers have at least one technically feasible and
achievable path to implementation,104 as discussed below, we establish a single, uniform deadline of
December 31, 2014 for all covered text providers to be “text-capable.” We believe that this deadline
achieves our goal of ensuring that text-to-911 is implemented as swiftly as feasibly possible. We also
believe there are benefits to adopting a uniform deadline for all covered text providers. By this “text-
capable” deadline, a covered text provider should have made any preparations necessary to provide text-
to-911, including, for example: (1) determining the particular solution it will use for delivering texts to
911, including the capability to obtain location information sufficient to route texts to 911 to the
appropriate PSAP; (2) identifying and/or entering into any necessary contractual arrangements with other
stakeholders to implement text-to-911, including, but not limited to, arrangements for routing
interconnected text-to-911 traffic; and (3) adopting requisite budgetary and other resource allocation plans
to provide for delivery of text-to-911 in accordance with our requirements.105
Based on the record, adoption of the ATIS/TIA J-STD-110 standard,106 and existing text-
to-911 deployments by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, it is clear that it is technically
feasible for CMRS providers to support text-to-911. In the Second Further Notice, we proposed to
require all covered text providers be capable of supporting text-to-911 service by December 31, 2014.107
In response, a number of public safety and technology vendors express support for this proposed deadline
with regard to CMRS providers.108 For example, NENA states that “[t]here is little doubt, based on the
record, that a December 31st, 2014 deadline for text readiness is reasonable and feasible for the
overwhelming majority of CMRS providers.”109 NENA also notes that “the two principal preconditions
to the technical feasibility of Text-to-911 deployment by small or rural carriers cited by previous
commenters have now been satisfied: ATIS and TIA published their JSMS911 standard (J-STD-110) just
over one year ago, and multiple competing text solution providers have now turned-up service to multiple
PSAPs using multiple text delivery methods.”110
APCO also states, “it appears that other [CMRS]
104 These requirements are “achievable and technically feasible,” pursuant to our authority under CVAA. See 47
U.S.C. § 615c(g). This source of authority is discussed infra at Section III.F.
105 While we do not require each of these steps nor intend for this list to be exhaustive, a covered text provider that
has completed each of these steps will be considered text-capable under our rules. We further note that satisfying
this text-capable requirement does not necessarily entail the expenditure of funds, provided the covered text provider
takes all necessary steps to be able to provide text-to-911 within six months of receiving a PSAP request. Whether
the expenditure of funds is necessary to comply with our requirements is a business and operational decision that
may vary by individual covered text provider.
106 The scope of the J-STD-110 is limited to text messaging to 9-1-1 for native SMS capabilities, and it does not
address support of text-to-911 for interconnected text services using “over-the-top” SMS. See ATIS/TIA J-STD-
110, Section 1.1.
107 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1552 ¶ 18.
108 Comments of APCO, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4. 2014), at 2 (APCO Second Further
Notice Comments); NENA Second Further Notice Comments at 4; NASNA Second Further Notice Comments at 2;
Vermont E911 Second Further Notice Comments at 1; NTCA Second Further Notice Comments at 1-2; T-Mobile
Second Further Notice Comments at 2; Heywire Second Further Notice Comments at 1; TCS Second Further Notice
Comments at 3.
109 NENA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 3.
110 NENA Second Further Notice Comments at 4 (footnote omitted).
Federal Communications Commission
carriers would be able to follow in [the four major carrier parties of the Carrier-NENA-APCO
Agreement’s] footsteps and comply by the end of this year. There are already Text Control Center (TCC)
providers working with the four major carriers…. Thus, the road is paved for easier implementation by
small and rural carriers.”111
We are unpersuaded by arguments by some small and rural CMRS providers that, absent
a PSAP request for service, covered text providers should not be required to develop text-to-911
capability. As noted above, CCA supported the December 31, 2014 deadline over a year ago. CCA does
not challenge the feasibility of meeting that deadline, but argues that such a deadline is not likely to help
the Commission achieve its goal because “PSAPs are the gatekeepers for this service, and until the
Commission finds a way to increase PSAP adoption, the deadline imposed on carriers will not further the
Commission’s objectives.”112 We agree that the Commission needs to encourage PSAP adoption, but we
believe that establishing a set deadline is the best means by which to do so. As APCO argues, absent a
date certain by which covered text providers will make text-to-911 available, PSAPs will not have any
incentive to commit to necessary system upgrades for text-to-911.113
We believe that the “text-capable”
deadline we adopt today will serve to encourage PSAPs to plan for and request text-to-911 service.
Furthermore, the implementation of text-to-911 is already underway. As of July 28, 2014, the service is
supported statewide in Vermont and Maine, as well as in a number of jurisdictions across the nation,
including jurisdictions in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, New
York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.114 A number of jurisdictions,
including jurisdictions in California, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Tennessee,
Washington, and West Virginia, have already indicated that they plan to implement the capability later
this year or in 2015.115 We believe that the success of these early adopters will also be persuasive to other
PSAPs,116 and we plan to continue to work cooperatively with PSAPs to facilitate their notification to
covered text providers of requests to initiate service and otherwise to promote their deployments.
recognize that there may be a number of factors that PSAPs must address before implementing text-to-
911 and that might result in a later deployment timeframe, including funding or other resource issues,
determining how best to integrate their chosen delivery method (TTY, web browser, or i3 ESinet/IP
interface) with their existing PSAP infrastructure, or assessing how to incorporate text-to-911 as part of a
larger migration to NG911. We are encouraged, however, by the number of jurisdictions that have
111 APCO Second Further Notice Comments at 2.
112 Reply Comments of Competitive Carriers Association, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed June 5. 2014) at
2-4 (CCA Second Further Notice Reply Comments).
113 APCO Second Further Notice Comments at 5.
114 See http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/911/Text_911_Deployments.pdf (last accessed July 28, 2014) (identifying
status of PSAP deployments nationwide).
115 See. e.g., Text-To-911 Services Raise Compatibility Issues In Sacramento County, CBS13, available at
(last accessed Aug. 1, 2014); John Funk, Idaho Emergency Dispatchers Prepare for Next Generation 911, Idaho
Press-Tribune, July 6, 2014, available at http://www.idahopress.com/members/idaho-emergency-dispatchers-
prepare-for-next-generation/article_594a91c6-04c4-11e4-a677-001a4bcf887a.html (last accessed Aug. 1, 2014);
Harrison County Updating 911 Equipment, WTOV9.com, July 16, 2014, available at
accessed Aug. 1, 2014); Robert Sorrell, Sullivan County Implementing Future in Emergency Communications,
Bristol Herald Courier, July 28, 2014, available at http://www.tricities.com/news/article_bf48a466-1605-11e4-ab80-
001a4bcf6878.html (last accessed Aug. 1, 2014).
116 See Letter from David Tucker, Executive Director, Vermont State E9-1-1 Board, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, PS Docket No. 11-153 (filed June 19, 2014), at 3 (“If we had
[text-to-911] to do all over again, we would do it again. The concern about folks replacing voice calls with text has
proven to be a non-issue. We have had a handful of unnecessary texting, and almost no incidents of spamming.”).
Federal Communications Commission
already deployed or have indicated their intent to deploy text-to-911 that PSAPs will implement text-to-
We are also unpersuaded by other arguments in the record that we should adopt a
different deadline. For example, CCA suggests that “the Commission should benchmark smaller wireless
providers’ implementation deadline from adoption of a final order, rather than the predetermined
December 31, 2014 date.”117 Adopting a December 31, 2014 deadline, consistent with our proposal in the
Second Further Notice, is based on our evaluation of the comments in the record, as well as the
demonstrated ability of CMRS providers to deliver texts to 911, given text-to-911 deployments already in
existence. And small and rural CMRS providers should be able to leverage some of the text-to-911
databases and other infrastructure that text-to-911 vendors have had in place since May 15, 2014 to
support provision of text-to-911 by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.118 We therefore
believe that a December 31, 2014 text-capable deadline should be achievable and technically feasible.
The record also demonstrates that there is at least one technically feasible approach that
exists today for interconnected text providers to support text-to-911 by December 31, 2014, with
additional solutions under development.
In the Second Further Notice, we sought comment on the
technical feasibility of interconnected text providers to support text-to-911 traffic under four different
delivery models: a CMRS network-based model;119 a server-based model;120 a server-based model relying
on a device’s phone number;121 and a server-based model relying on a location API.122 The record shows
that interconnected text providers could feasibly implement at least one proposed text-to-911 delivery
model – the CMRS network-based model – by December 31, 2014.123 For example, Heywire submits that
117 CCA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 4.
118 See Bandwidth Second Further Notice Comments at 7. For example, most small and rural CMRS providers will
contract with a third-party vendor for access to Text Control Centers (TCCs), which serve as aggregation points for
both text and voice calls to PSAPs. See NTCA Second Further Notice Comments at 6. Seeing as the four major
CMRS providers and their technology vendors have already installed TCCs for compliance with the Carrier-NENA-
APCO Agreement, small and rural CMRS providers will only need to connect to the TCC to commence text-to-911
service. Thus, because small and rural CMRS providers will likely opt to use TCCs already in place and therefore
will not need to purchase and deploy infrastructure, their implementation of text-to-911 should not be delayed for
119 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1554-55 ¶¶ 25-29. The “CMRS network-based model” is premised upon
a texting application’s use of the wireless device’s native SMS application programming interface (API) after
recognizing that the user is sending a text message to the text short code “911.” This functionality is distinct from
the application’s normal operating mode, which is generally designed to route a text via a means other than the
native SMS capability of the device. Upon invoking the native SMS texting application, the text-to-911 message
will be handled by the underlying CMRS provider, i.e., the text will be routed through the CMRS provider’s (or its
agent’s) TCC, which is the functional element of the Short Message Service Center (SMSC) dedicated to routing
texts to the appropriate PSAP.
120 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1556 ¶ 31.
121 Id. at 1556 ¶ 32.
122 Id. at 1556 ¶ 33. We noted that these models were not intended to be an exhaustive list of methods available to
interconnected text providers to route texts to PSAPs, and that an application could feasibly implement both CMRS
network-based and server-based solutions. Id.
123 See, e.g., APCO Second Further Notice Comments at 3(“[W]e urge that the selected approach be technically
viable and relatively easy to implement by December 31, 2014, or as soon as possible thereafter. The CMRS
network-based model would appear to meet those criteria, though some technical issues may still need to be
considered.”); Comments of Comcast Corporation, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4, 2014), at 2
(Comcast Second Further Notice Comments)(“If the Commission requires OTT text messaging providers to
implement a text-to-911 solution by the December 31, 2014 deadline …one model – the CMRS network-based
model – potentially may be technically feasible for Comcast to install by that date.”); TCS Second Further Notice
Federal Communications Commission
the target date of December 31, 2014 proposed by the Commission is feasible using the CMRS network-
Microsoft asserts that “as long as access to the SMS API remains available to
interconnected text apps, enabling text-to-911 by December 31, 2014, is technically possible.”125
VON Coalition states that “[t]he SMS-API model is technically feasible, and can likely be implemented
by i-text providers by the December 31, 2014, deadline suggested by the Commission.”126
In light of the fact that multiple interconnected text providers filed comments in the
record indicating that a December 31, 2014 deadline is technically feasible, we are unpersuaded by other
parties who suggest interconnected text providers will need additional time,127 or that adopting a deadline
for interconnected text providers would be inappropriate at this time.128
We also disagree that certain
technical issues justify a later deadline for interconnected text providers.129 Based on consideration of the
record as a whole, we believe a December 31, 2014 deadline is reasonable.
In light of our commitment to technologically neutral rules, as we emphasized in the
Policy Statement,130 we do not mandate any particular model for implementing text-to-911. Because SMS
is the most common texting technology in use today, and virtually all wireless consumers already have
(Continued from previous page)
Comments at 5 (“It is technically feasible for interconnected text providers to implement these [OTT Text-to-911
Message Delivery] models by the proposed deadline.”).
124 Heywire Second Further Notice Comments at 2. Heywire also states that the CMRS network-based model “not
only guarantees near 100% universal implementation potential by all OTT service providers. . . but also gives the
individual using text-to-911 functionality a consistent [and] familiar user experience with the various messaging
applications while simultaneously providing the 911 ecosystem a singular consistent systems for processing off the
requests (PSAP, TCC, etc.).” See id.
125 Comments of Microsoft Corporation, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4, 2014) at 5 (Microsoft
Second Further Notice Comments).
126 VON Coalition Second Further Notice Comments at 4-5.
127 CenturyLink says only that it “is not certain” that the proposed deadline is achievable “for all text providers,” and
asks either for a later deadline or that the Commission remain “open to waiver requests.” CenturyLink Second
Further Notice Comments at 2. Sprint similarly asks that the Commission “consider an alternative timeframe” for
interconnected text providers because of “the complexities involved” in coordination among multiple entities, but
provides no further showing in support of its request. Sprint Second Further Notice Comments at 2. See also RWA
Second Further Notice Comments at 2-3. Twilio’s argument about possible lack of access to SMS API capabilities
is inconsistent with the statements already made by Sprint and T-Mobile. Twilio Second Further Notice Comments
at 9-10; Sprint Second Further Notice Comments at 7; T-Mobile Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 13-14.
128 Comcast, for example, urges that it would be “prudent” to refrain from establishing a deadline for interconnected
text providers, but the basis for this position is various technical impediments limited to the non-CMRS-based
network models. See Comcast Second Further Notice Comments at 3. Microsoft similarly urges “caution,” but also
refers to its suggestion not to set dates for non-interconnected texting apps. Reply Comments of Microsoft
Corporation, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed May 5, 2014), at 13 (Microsoft Second Further Notice Reply
129 For example, Comcast argues that the CMRS network-based model would require users attempting to send a 911
text message using an interconnected text application on an iOS device to press “send” twice in order to successfully
transmit the message, and that additional time is warranted to address this issue. See Comcast Second Further
Notice Comments at 5-6. We acknowledge that the application's user interface for 911 text messages may differ
from that used for non-emergency texting purposes and that such differences are permissible, provided they do not
affect the covered text provider's ability to comply with the text-to-911 requirements as set forth herein. We also
note that this issue is limited to devices using Apple’s iOS operating system. See id. at 6, n. 13. We are
unpersuaded that the consumer's need to press “send” twice justifies a longer deployment timeframe. Comcast
presents no evidence that consumers would abandon their attempts to text 911 in the face of seeing a second “send”
prompt, or that this issue could not be fixed through modification to the underlying code of its application.
130 Policy Statement, 29 FCC Rcd 1552 at ¶ 15.
Federal Communications Commission
access to it and are familiar with its use, we expect that most CMRS providers will initially support SMS-
based text-to-911.131 However, we acknowledge that CMRS providers may eventually seek to migrate
customers away from SMS. We do not require CMRS providers to support SMS-based text-to-911
indefinitely, so long as they provide their customers with at least one text-to-911 option per device that
works across the provider’s entire network coverage area.132 CMRS providers may select any reliable
method or methods (e.g., SMS, IP-based) for text routing and delivery.133 Although covered text
providers may utilize a messaging platform that can support multiple addresses or enable sending images
and video, covered text providers must ensure that these features do not interfere with the delivery of the
text portion of the message to a PSAP.134
With respect to interconnected text providers, we anticipate that many will choose the
CMRS network-based solution to deliver texts-to-911, at least as an interim measure. We expect CMRS
providers will continue to allow access to capabilities necessary for transmission of text-to-911
communications by other covered text providers.135 In order to facilitate the use of this method, CMRS
131 The four major wireless carriers have all implemented SMS-based text-to-911 solutions.
132 T-Mobile notes its plan to migrate former MetroPCS subscribers from their legacy CDMA network to its HSPA
and LTE networks. It argues that “the Commission should exempt networks that will be decommissioned within
eighteen months of the effective date of the new mandate ... To do otherwise would mandate wasteful investment in
a capability that will be soon discarded along with the rest of that network.” T-Mobile Further Notice Comments at
10-11. We agree and, accordingly, will exempt networks that will be decommissioned before June 30, 2016, on the
condition that subscribers are migrated by that date to networks with the required text-to-911 capability.
133 We expect parties will take other necessary measures to facilitate text-to-911, such as ensuring the
interconnection of various TCCs. T-Mobile argues that “it is critical that these TCCs interconnect: ‘When TCCs
from different vendors are able to interoperate with each other, PSAPs can connect to multiple carriers through a
single TCC.’ The same is true in reverse: when TCCs from different vendors interconnect, a CMRS provider can
reach multiple vendors’ PSAPs through a single TCC. TCC interconnectivity is therefore part of the revised ATIS
standard for text-to-911. Without interconnection between TCCs, T-Mobile will not be able to reach a substantial
number of requesting PSAPs.” See T-Mobile March 18, 2014 Ex Parte at 2, citing Ad Hoc National SMS Text-to-
911 Service Coordination Group, “Interim SMS Text-to-911 Information and Planning Guide, Version 1” (Feb.
2014), available at
June 20, 2014) and ATIS, Supplement A to J-STD-110, Joint ATIS/TIA Native SMS to 9-1-1 Requirements and
Architecture Specification, J-STD-110.a (Nov. 2013). See also NTCA Second Further Notice Comments at 7 (citing
revised ATIS standard). We note that interconnection between TCCs was not required in the Carrier-NENA-APCO
Agreement, and no party has presented evidence of any difficulties with TCC interconnection that have prevented
any of the signatory parties from meeting the terms of the agreement or are likely to prevent any other covered text
provider from implementing text-to-911. As T-Mobile notes, TCC interconnection is addressed in the revised J-
STD-110.a. We will continue to monitor the progress of text-to-911 implementation, including the status of
interconnection between TCCs and whether additional action may be necessary.
134 For example, a consumer may send a text message to 911 and include other telephone numbers in the address
field in addition to the short code “911.” The covered text provider must ensure that processing of the text for
delivery to the non-911 addresses does not affect the delivery of the text to the PSAP and any subsequent two-way
text exchange between the texter and the PSAP. Likewise, if a consumer attaches multimedia to a text message to
911, the covered text provider must ensure delivery of the text portion of the message without interference or
alteration of the text and subject to the requirements for text delivery set forth by the PSAP. See also infra Section
IV.D, para. 131 (seeking comment on rich media text services, which may be able to support the future delivery of
additional non-text information).
135 Many text applications already employ a delivery model similar to the CMRS network-based delivery model.
See, e.g., Microsoft Comments at 5 (“Today, major mobile operating systems provide some API or other coding
capability that would allow an interconnected texting app to access SMS functionality native to the phone and send a
911 text over the carrier’s SMS network.”); Heywire Comments at 3 (this exact functional method is already being
utilized by many “non” interconnected OTT service providers currently for various other purposes that are not
related to 911 type scenarios that are equally complex and challenging for other purposes, that to implement same
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providers shall allow access to capabilities necessary for transmission of text-to-911 communications by
other covered text providers.136 We incorporate this requirement into our rules.137
We make clear,
however, that we do not require CMRS providers to reconfigure any SMS text-to-911 platforms in order
to facilitate the ability of other covered text providers to access the CMRS providers’ networks, and that
CMRS providers’ obligation to allow access to CMRS networks is limited to the extent that the CMRS
providers offers SMS.
It is the responsibility of the covered text provider selecting the CMRS network-
based solution to ensure that its text messaging service is technically compatible with the CMRS
provider’s SMS networks and devices, and in conformance with any applicable technical standards.138
Further, we find that it is reasonable for CMRS providers to receive commercially reasonable
compensation for the delivery of 911 text messages. We do not require CMRS providers to allow text-to-
911 traffic over their SMS networks from end users that do not have an SMS plan (an SMS plan may
include a bulk messaging plan, a pre-paid messaging plan, or a per-message plan). In this way, CMRS
providers may receive commercially reasonable compensation for delivery of texts to 911 directly from
(Continued from previous page)
techniques and mechanisms for Text-to-911 is known and well understood by the industry.”). See also Sprint
Comments at 7 (“Sprint does not currently block access to the capability if it is already defined in a publicly-
available API of the operating system.”); T-Mobile Comments at 11-12 (“Unless there are valid technical or network
security concerns, carriers should have no reason to block 911 texts … when the carrier has permitted a text provider
to have access to the carrier's native SMS capability.”); VON Coalition Comments at 5 (For the CMRS network-
based model to work, “...wireless carriers cannot block the application’s access to the SMS API, which is readily
available in mobile operating systems today.”); TCS Comments at 7 (“The interfaces into the carriers' messaging
infrastructures are currently open to third parties, and some of these interfaces are currently provided at no
additional charge to the interconnecting entity, though the subscriber may be charged for either messaging or data
136 See APCO Second Further Notice Comments at 4, citing Second Further Notice at ¶ 29; NASNA Second Further
Notice Comments at 4; T-Mobile Second Further Notice Comments at 11; Heywire Second Further Notice
Comments at 4; VON Coalition Second Further Notice Comments at 5; Bandwidth Second Further Notice Reply
Comments at 6; Microsoft Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 7 (stating that “compliance can be achieved if
the carriers simply do not interfere with interconnected OTT app’s ability to connect to 911 through the SMS API”).
137 Some commenters argue that it is device manufacturers or the device’s operating system (OS) – not the CMRS
provider – that affects whether a text message originating in a non-native text application will be able to access the
CMRS network. See Sprint Second Further Notice Comments at 7; Verizon Second Further Notice Comments at 8,
9; Heywire Second Further Notice Comments at 3. This problem appears limited to certain older OS platforms. For
example, Android is now on version 4.4 of its OS software. Version 1.6 incorporated an “SMS Manager API” that
enables non-native text messaging applications to access the CMRS network. According to Google Play Store’s
statistics, in August 2013, versions older than Android 2.2 accounted for only about 1 percent of devices that
checked in to Google servers, meaning that less than 1 percent of users have devices with versions of Android that
would present this problem. See https://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html (last accessed July 22,
2014). With regard to Apple devices, iOS is now on version 7. iOS version 4 provided an update that allows users
to send an SMS within a non-native text application. See, e.g., http://stackoverflow.com/questions/10848/how-to-
programmatically-send-sms-on-the-iphone (last accessed July 22, 2014). Apple reports than only 2 percent of
devices running iOS are using version 5 or earlier, which means that even fewer devices are running versions of iOS
that do not incorporate this update. See https://developer.apple.com/support/appstore/ (last accessed July 22, 2014).
Because many interconnected text messaging applications are only available for newer versions of the OS, this issue
is likely even more limited. For example, interconnected text application Heywire is only available for Android
versions 2.1 or higher. See http://www.amazon.com/MediaFriends-Inc-HeyWire/dp/B005VFKHAW (last accessed
July 23, 2014). Thus, because the number of devices using older OS platforms is decreasing over time, and because
the relevant applications generally cannot be downloaded onto older OS versions, this should be a diminishing
concern. In the event covered text provider cannot deliver texts to 911 for a particular device due to that device’s
OS, they should seek a waiver of our rules.
138 We expect CMRS providers to make any necessary specifications for accessing their SMS networks available to
other covered text providers upon request, and to inform such covered text providers in advance of any changes to
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the end user.139 All covered text providers using the CMRS network-based delivery model for text-to-911
must clearly inform consumers that, absent an SMS plan with the consumer’s underlying CMRS provider,
the covered text provider may be unable to deliver 911 text messages. As noted above, CMRS providers
may choose to migrate away from SMS platforms in favor of newer technologies; we therefore limit the
scope of this access requirement to the extent that CMRS providers offer SMS.140 CMRS providers are
not subject to any obligation to maintain the SMS network for use by other covered text providers.
manner, we do not establish “an open-ended obligation to third-party competitors.”141 We do, however,
require that the CMRS provider must provide reasonable advance notice to the affected covered text
providers about its choice to migrate to a new technology not less than 90 days prior to the migration to
such technology. We believe this framework will spur innovation from interconnected text providers to
actively develop solutions to support text-to-911 without reliance on CMRS providers’ underlying
networks. We nevertheless encourage parties to negotiate solutions to facilitate continued compliance
with our text-to-911 requirements, including solutions whereby CMRS providers would continue to carry
other covered text providers’ texts to 911 over their new networks where technically feasible, again
pursuant to commercially reasonable business arrangements negotiated on an individualized basis.
Finally, any covered text provider that is unable to meet the text-capable deadline may
seek waiver relief. In the Second Further Notice, we sought comment on to what extent, and under what
circumstances, the Commission should consider waivers of the proposed text-to-911 rules.142 We decline
to adopt a waiver standard that would be specific to our text-to-911 requirements. The Commission may
grant relief pursuant to the waiver standards set forth in Sections 1.3 and 1.925 of its rules,143 and we
believe these provisions are sufficient to address any requests for relief of the text-to-911 requirements,
which we will evaluate based on the facts and circumstances of the particular request.
Six-Month Implementation Period to Deliver Texts to Text-Ready
Subsequent to the “text-capable” deadline, we require covered text providers to
commence delivery of texts to 911 within six months of a valid PSAP request.144 For all PSAP requests
139 See Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1555 ¶ 28. Rather than directly billing the end user, CMRS providers
and interconnected text messaging providers may choose to negotiate an agreement, pursuant to commercially
reasonable price and other terms, that may address questions relating to compensation. Parties are not required to
enter into any such arrangement. Regardless of how the CMRS provider receives reasonable compensation,
however, the CMRS provider’s obligation to carry text-to-911 traffic is limited to end users with an SMS plan, as
140 AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon express concern regarding the scope of responsibility that an access
requirement could impose on CMRS providers.
See Letter from Nneka Chiazor, Verizon, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, Federal Communications Commission (filed July 31, 2014) (Verizon et al. July 31, 2014 Ex Parte)
(discussing potential policy and technical concerns, on behalf of the four major wireless providers).
Even if a
covered text provider chooses to implement the CMRS network-based approach for delivery of 911 text messages,
we affirm that each individual covered text provider is individually responsible for its compliance with the text-to-
911 requirements set forth herein, including responsibility for educating its users regarding how text-to-911 might
work for their particular interconnected text messaging applications. Furthermore, we do not specify or require any
terms or conditions governing the relationships between covered text providers and CMRS providers, beyond
specifying that, to the extent they enter into business agreements regarding access to SMS networks, the terms of
such agreements should be commercially reasonable.
141 AT&T Second Further Notice Comments at 5.
142 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd 1564 ¶ 56.
143 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.3, 1.925; see also WAIT Radio v. FCC, 418 F.2d 1153, 1159 (D.C. Cir. 1969).
144 We note that the six-month implementation timeframe we adopt here is consistent with the Carrier-NENA-APCO
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received on or before December 31, 2014, covered text providers must commence text-to-911 service to
such PSAPs by June 30, 2015. We find that a six-month implementation window for all covered text
providers to begin delivering text-to-911 service to requesting PSAPs is both technically and
The Second Further Notice proposed to require covered text providers to implement text-
to-911 service within six months of a “valid PSAP request.”145 In response, several commenters agree
that a six-month implementation period is sufficient for all CMRS providers, including small and rural
CMRS providers.146 Verizon supports the proposed six-month implementation timeframe, but suggests
that the Commission modify the proposal to allow PSAPs and covered text providers to agree on an
alternate timeframe beyond six months.147 Verizon argues that “[t]his will enable service providers to
flexibly handle unforeseen delays on an informal basis with individual PSAPs, without the need to burden
the Commission with waiver requests.”148
On the other hand, Rural Wireless Association (RWA) argues for permitting CMRS
providers up to one year after a PSAP request to begin delivering text messages to that PSAP.149 RWA
states that “[f]or carriers deploying LTE-only networks, texting cannot be provided absent the integration
of IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) software into the LTE core, which is dependent on the release of IMS
software by major equipment and software vendors.”150 RWA adds that “to date such software has not
been made available for use by small wireless carriers,” and argues that a “requirement that [OTT] text
providers meet the same compliance deadlines may require [CMRS] providers to incur costs and burdens
associated with the provision of network and device capabilities to interconnected text providers.”151
RWA also argues that “[d]ue to the uncertainty surrounding what would be required to provide support
for potentially countless number of applications, it is unclear whether carriers can do so within the
timeframe envisioned by the Commission.”152
On balance, we believe that the December 31, 2014 initial “text-capable deadline,”
combined with a subsequent six-month period to deliver texts to requesting PSAPs, provides covered text
providers with a sufficient amount of time to implement our requirements.153 We disagree with RWA that
small and rural CMRS providers need more time to become capable of supporting text-to-911 traffic from
covered text providers utilizing the CMRS network-based model. As discussed above, CMRS providers
need not play an active role in the routing of such traffic and need only refrain from interfering with
access to necessary CMRS capabilities.154 Further, RWA’s argument with respect to obtaining IMS
145 Second Further Notice, 28 FCC Rcd at 1554 ¶ 19.
146 For example, NENA notes that “clear consensus support for a 6-month implementation window from the first
PSAP request provides a further buffer during which any late-discovered kinks can be worked out of individual
carrier networks.” NENA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 3.
147 Verizon Second Further Notice Comments at 17.
149 Comments of Rural Wireless Association, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4, 2014), at 2 (RWA
Second Further Notice Comments) (“For non-LTE carriers, compliance may still be unachievable for some small
carriers. Equipment availability and the cost considerations may prevent some carriers from meeting the proposed
deadlines. Allowing carriers one year after a PSAP request to route text messages to the requesting PSAP should
allow for compliance by most carriers.”).
150 RWA Second Further Notice Comments at 2.
151 Id. at 2-3.
152 Id. at 3.
153 We note that the requirements adopted herein do not suspend the timelines agreed upon in the Carrier-NENA-
APCO Voluntary Agreement.
154 See supra Section III.A.2.b, para. 45.
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software represents a business concern that should be addressed through marketplace negotiations.
Accordingly, with regard to PSAPs making valid requests for service by December 31, 2014, all covered
text providers should commence delivery of texts no later than June 30, 2015.
For the purposes of our rules, a “valid PSAP request” means that: (1) the requesting
PSAP is, and certifies that it is, technically ready to receive 911 text messages in the format
(2) the appropriate local or State 911 service governing authority has specifically authorized
the PSAP to accept and, by extension, the covered text provider to provide, text-to-911 service; and (3)
the requesting PSAP has notified the covered text provider that it is both technically ready to receive 911
text messages and has been authorized to accept such messages.
We note that the elements of a “valid
PSAP request,” which we describe here, are generally consistent with the terms of the Carrier-NENA-
APCO Agreement.155 The requesting PSAP may notify a covered text provider by either registering in the
Commission’s database (described below), or providing the covered text provider with any other written
notification that is reasonably acceptable to the covered text provider. Additionally, while we decline to
extend the six-month implementation period for small and rural carriers as RWA suggests, we will allow
PSAPs and covered text providers the opportunity to mutually consent to an alternative implementation
timeframe, beyond the standard six-month implementation window, as suggested by Verizon. We agree
with Verizon that this will “enable service providers to flexibly handle unforeseen delays on an informal
basis with individual PSAPs, without the need to burden the Commission with waiver requests.” We
require covered text providers to notify the Commission of any such alternative arrangements and
deployment schedules within 30 days of entering into such an agreement.156 We anticipate that any
PSAPs requesting text-to-911 service will want to deploy the service as swiftly as possible, and therefore,
that PSAPs will not agree to an alternative timeframe unless there is a legitimate reason for doing so.
Notification to Covered Text Providers
In order to facilitate implementation of our text-to-911 requirements, we will implement
a centralized database, to be administered by the Commission, that will reflect the text-readiness of
individual PSAPs.157 We find that a centralized approach would best serve the interests of both PSAPs
and covered text providers in the implementation process, rather than requiring PSAPs to make individual
requests for text-to-911 service. For example, a PSAP registry will address concerns raised in the record
by public safety entities regarding the volume of covered entities that might be subject to our text-to-911
requirements, and the associated burden of reaching out to each of them to request text-to-911.158
155 Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement at 2.
156 The covered text provider must file such notification in PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153, and may request
confidential treatment of its filing or a portion of the filing pursuant to Section 0.459 of the Commission’s rules. 47
C.F.R. § 0.459.
157 We have previously sought comment in this proceeding on whether to implement a centralized database. See
Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15713 ¶ 145. We noted “this approach would arguably have efficiency advantages
because it would enable PSAPs to provide notification regarding text delivery only once to all parties, rather than
having to inform every wireless carrier or systems service provider individually.” Id. The Commission sought
comment on whether this registry might be implemented as an extension of the Commission's PSAP database. Id. at
¶ 146. That Master PSAP Registry, established in 2003, serves as a tool to aid the Commission, 911 authorities,
PSAPs, and service providers in ascertaining the current operational status of PSAPs. See
http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/9-1-1-master-psap-registry (last accessed July 24, 2014).
158 As Texas 9-1-1 Entities notes, “PSAPs do not have the same historical relationship with OTT providers that
currently exists between PSAPs and CMRS carriers, or have the same identify and contact information readily
available.” Comments of Texas 9-1-1 Entities, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4, 2014), at 3 (Texas
911 Entities Second Further Notice Comments). See also BRETSA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 10
(“The Commission should create and maintain, or mandate, a database of PSAPs requesting text-to-911… it is
simply unreasonable… for a PSAP to identify and notify all text messaging providers of its election to receive text-
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Utilizing a centralized database would allow PSAPs to indicate their readiness to receive texts to 911 in
one place, which would in turn serve as notice to all covered text providers, regardless of whether the
PSAP has a previous relationship with the covered text provider. In other words, the registry will
simplify the PSAP request process for both PSAPs and covered text providers.
Accordingly, the Commission will establish and maintain a centralized database so as to
provide PSAPs with an option to register their text-readiness. Registration in the Commission’s PSAP
database will commence the six-month implementation timeframe for covered text providers in their area.
In order for a PSAP to register in our database as “text-ready,” the requesting PSAP must certify that it is
technically ready to receive 911 text messages in the format requested, and the appropriate local or State
911 service governing authority has specifically authorized the PSAP to accept and, by extension, the
covered text provider to provide, text-to-911 service. The database will include contact information so
that covered text providers may coordinate with PSAPs regarding the specific implementation criteria,
like the PSAP’s selected method of receiving texts.159 PSAPs that are already accepting texts as of
December 31, 2014 will be presumed to be “text-ready” and will be automatically registered in the
database, unless they inform the Commission otherwise.
A centralized database addresses requests from public safety entities seeking a more
streamlined process to request text-to-911 service. Covered text providers should periodically review the
text-readiness of PSAPs in their service areas and reach out to these PSAPs as necessary to coordinate
implementation of text-to-911 service. To the extent possible, we encourage PSAPs and covered text
providers to follow the processes recommended by CSRIC in its recent report outlining best practices and
guidelines for PSAPs making requests for text-to-911 service.160
We direct the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) to develop,
implement, and maintain the centralized database for purposes of implementing our text-to-911
requirements. PSHSB should provide additional information regarding the database, including the
availability of the database for PSAP registration, in a subsequent Public Notice.161 In the interim, PSAPs
that are text-ready before the database is publicly available may file notifications with the Commission.162
We also direct PSHSB to maintain and regularly update its website to identify any new PSAPs that have
provided notice of their text readiness, and to supplement updates to the website with regular Public
While registration in the database is one way by which PSAPs may trigger text-to-911
obligations by covered text providers, and as noted above, the record suggests that it is the most efficient
159 That is to say, whether the PSAP will receive texts through the TTY translation, web browser, or all-IP delivery
method. See Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15708-12 ¶¶ 127-43. See also CSRIC PSAP Best Practices Report at
Section 5.2 (providing information on testing and trialing of service for each delivery method). We note that this is
generally consistent with the terms of the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement.
160 CSRIC PSAP Best Practices Report. CSRIC’s report includes information on operational considerations for
implementing SMS text-to-911, including information on the three available delivery methods for interim SMS text-
to-911. CSRIC includes an “SMS Text-to-9-1-1 Readiness Questionnaire” for PSAPs to complete and return to
covered text providers as part of the text-to-911 implementation process, in order to provide full and consistent
information regarding the PSAP’s technical and operational capabilities to receive texts to 911. We anticipate that
covered text providers may seek a waiver of the implementation deadline because a PSAP that requests text
messages is not, in fact, text-ready. To the extent the PSAP has undertaken the best practices referenced in CSRIC’s
report, we will adopt a rebuttable presumption that a PSAP is text-ready and has submitted a valid PSAP request,
thereby placing the burden on carriers to show otherwise.
161 The Bureau may act on delegated authority on behalf of the Commission in all matters pertaining to public safety,
homeland security, national security, emergency management and preparedness, disaster management, and ancillary
operations. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.191, 0.392.
162 Parties should file in PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153.
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mechanism, we do not require its use. The obligations of covered text providers may also be triggered by
any other written notification to them by PSAPs. Finally, we note that PSAPs retain the choice of
whether to receive texts to 911, as well as whether to participate in registering as “text-ready” in our
centralized database. Not registering in the database will not preclude PSAPs from being able to obtain
text-to-911 service. That is, covered text providers still must provide text-to-911 service within six
months of receiving a valid PSAP request, irrespective of whether a PSAP has registered as “text-ready”
with the Commission.
Routing of Text Messages to 911
We require covered text providers to route texts to 911 using coarse location (cell ID and
cell sector) or other equivalent means that allows the covered text provider to route a text to the
The record in this proceeding, as well as the current ATIS/TIA Joint Standard 110 (J-
STD-110), demonstrate that coarse location is currently feasible for text-to-911 purposes, and it is already
being used to route texts to the proper PSAP in active text-to-911 deployments.163 The ATIS/TIA J-STD-
110 defines coarse location information as “typically the initial location estimate of the mobile device,”
consisting of “the Latitude/Longitude (X/Y) coordinates representing the geographic center (centroid) of
the cell site/cell site sector area currently associated with the mobile device where the emergency
communication dialogue was initiated.”164
On June 18, 2014, CSRIC IV WG1 released a report evaluating the ability of covered text
providers to generate and deliver enhanced – that is, more granular than coarse – location information
with text to 911.165 CSRIC concludes that “there is no solution for generating enhanced location in an
SMS text to 9-1-1 session for any currently deployed systems that does not require user equipment (‘UE’)
changes, network changes, or both.”166 CSRIC further notes that “some existing technologies, upon
which the SMS text to 9-1-1 service is based, face challenges and provide for extremely limited additional
standards development.”167 CSRIC recommends that the Commission “refrain from wireless E9-1-1
Phase II -like mandates for SMS text to 9-1-1 service and instead encourage further development and
implementation of more robust … solutions.”168 CSRIC also stated in its PSAP Best Practices report that,
under the J-STD-110, “only coarse location is required, any rebid functionality is OPTIONAL.”169
The CSRIC report and the consensus in the record lead us to conclude that enhanced
location information cannot be supported by all currently available location technologies or all devices
and operating systems.170 However, to wait for the capability to support more granular location data –
rather than adopting a coarse location requirement now – would delay the implementation of text-to-911.
We note that some form of location information is necessary in order to route a text message to the
163 See, e.g., Comments of CTIA – The Wireless Association, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4,
2014) at 9-10 (CTIA Second Further Notice Comments); TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 12-13.
164 See J-STD-110, section 3.1.2, p. 3.
165 CSRIC IV WG1, Investigation into Location Improvements for Interim SMS (Text) to 9-1-1, Final Report (June
18, 2014) (CSRIC Enhanced Location Report).
166 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 1.
168 Id. at 2.
169 CSRIC PSAP Best Practices Report at 12-14 (emphasis in original).
170 See APCO Second Further Notice Comments at 5; NASNA Second Further Notice Comments at 5-6; AT&T
Second Further Notice Comments at 6; CTIA Second Further Notice Comments at 10; RWA Second Further Notice
Comments at 3; Sprint Second Further Notice Comments at 9; T-Mobile Second Further Notice Comments at 5, 7;
Verizon Second Further Notice Comments at 16; ATIS Second Further Notice Comments at 4-5; Heywire Second
Further Notice Comments at 7; TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 12-13.
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appropriate PSAP and to implement text-to-911 rules. Thus, based on CSRIC’s findings and other record
support that coarse location is currently feasible, and except as noted below with respect to interconnected
text providers that do not access the CMRS network, we require that covered text providers must obtain
location information sufficient to route texts to the appropriate PSAP, using coarse location information
or an equivalent means. The Commission has previously noted that J-STD-110 permits a CMRS provider
to provide enhanced location information where possible.171 To the extent it is feasible, we encourage
them to do so.
In the event a covered text provider implements a text-to-911 solution that does not
access the CMRS network – and therefore cannot provide coarse location – the covered text provider
must obtain sufficient location information through some other means (e.g., through commercial location-
based services or through the device’s location application programming interface) to route the text to the
appropriate PSAP. All covered text providers using device-based location information that requires
consumer activation must clearly inform consumers that they must grant permission for the text
messaging application to access the wireless device’s location information in order to enable text-to-911.
If a consumer does not permit this access, then the application must provide an automated bounce-back
Finally, we emphasize that this approach is only an interim solution, and that we intend to
require the delivery of enhanced location information with texts to 911 as soon as it is technically feasible
to do so. In the Third Further Notice below, we seek comment on how enhanced location information
could eventually be generated and delivered with texts to 911.173 We also seek comment on the findings
in CSRIC’s June 2014 report on the feasibility of providing enhanced location information with texts to
In the Further Notice, the Commission recognized that adequate liability protection is
needed for PSAPs, CMRS providers, interconnected text providers, and technology vendors to proceed
with implementation of text-to-911.175 The Commission noted that the New and Emerging Technologies
911 Improvement Act (NET 911 Act) expanded the scope of state liability protection by requiring states
to provide parity in the degree of protection provided to traditional and non-traditional 911 providers.176
In the Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act of 2012 (NG911 Advancement Act), Congress further
extended these parity provisions to providers of NG911 services.177 The Further Notice sought comment
on whether providers of text-to-911 service have sufficient liability protection under current law to
provide text-to-911 services to their customers.178 The Commission observed that under the Carrier-
NENA-APCO Agreement, the four major CMRS providers have committed to deploy text-to-911
capability without any precondition requiring additional liability protection other than the protection
171 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1559 ¶ 41.
172 47 C.F.R. § 20.18(n)(2). In any situation where a covered text provider is unable to route a text to the appropriate
PSAP, the covered text provider must deliver an automated bounce-back message in accordance with our rules.
173 See infra Section IV.A.
174 See infra Section IV.A, para. 85.
175 Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15673 ¶ 167. The Commission also sought comment on liability issues in the
Notice. Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 13664 ¶ 120.
176 Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15720 ¶ 164. See 47 U.S.C. § 615a.
177 Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act of 2012, 47 U.S.C.A. § 1472 (2012), Sec. 6506 (NG911 Advancement
178 Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 15721 ¶ 167.
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afforded by current law.179 Nevertheless, the Further Notice sought comment on whether the Commission
could take additional steps – consistent with our regulatory authority – to provide additional liability
protection to text-to-911 service providers.180
In January 2014, the Commission sought further comment on whether adopting the
proposed text-to-911 requirements would assist in mitigating liability concerns by establishing standards
of conduct that could be invoked by covered text providers in defense against state tort liability or similar
claims. In response, several commenters argue that liability protection for 911 market participants should
be established on a national scale.181 For example, AT&T argues that “[Text-to-911] … demands a
national plan and . . . clear and unambiguous, comprehensive, standardized, nationwide liability
protection that applies equally to all parties in the stream of commerce that support it.”182
With regard to parity of liability protection for interconnected text providers, VON
Coalition urges the Commission to expand liability protection for these providers and notes that
“exposing interconnected text providers to unlimited liability for 911 texts will chill investment, research
and development in these important services.”183 However, two commenters suggest that the NET 911
Act provides a sufficiently flexible definition of “other emergency communication service provider,” such
that any new entrants to this market – i.e., non-CMRS covered text providers – would be entitled to the
parity of liability protection set forth in the NET 911 and NG911 Advancement Acts, and therefore,
would not be exposed to unlimited liability.184
Based on our interpretation of the statute, we conclude that covered text providers subject
to our text-to-911 requirements fall within the scope of “other emergency communications service
providers” under Section 201(a) of the NET 911 Act. Under Section 201(a), “other emergency
communications service providers” include “an entity other than a local exchange carrier, wireless carrier,
or an IP-enabled voice service provider that is required by the Federal Communications Commission
consistent with the Commission’s authority under the Communications Act of 1934 to provide other
emergency communications services.”185 In this Second Report and Order, we find interconnected text
181 See, e.g., AT&T Second Further Notice Comments at 8; T-Mobile Second Further Notice Comments at 14;
Microsoft Second Further Notice Comments at 6.
182 AT&T Second Further Notice Comments at 8.
183 VON Coalition Second Further Notice Comments at 8.
184 TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 19 (“[I]n enacting the NET 911 Act, Congress anticipated that certain
improvements to the 9-1-1 infrastructure would involve entities other than Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) and
VoIP and CMRS providers, and that Congress intended and directed the FCC to ensure that these new entities would
be afforded liability protection.”); T-Mobile Second Further Notice Comments at 12-13 (There should … be no
confusion regarding application of the NET 911 Act’s liability protections for OTT text providers themselves.”).
185 New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008, Pub. L. 110–283, July 23, 2008, 122 Stat. 2620
(NET 911 Act); see also 47 U.S.C. § 615b(9)(A). We noted in the Further Notice that the Carrier-NENA-APCO
Agreement does not address liability protection, indicating that the four CMRS provider parties were willing to
proceed with the implementation of Text-to-911 under the existing law at the time, including the NET 911 Act.
Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 15721 ¶ 167. The NET 911 Act alternatively defines “other emergency
communication service providers” to include, in the absence of a Commission requirement, “an entity that
voluntarily elects to provide other emergency communications services and is specifically authorized by the
appropriate local or State 9-1-1 service governing authority to provide other emergency communications services.”
47 U.S.C. § 615b(9)(B). We find that the voluntary provision of text-to-911 service, in response to an authorized
PSAP request, falls within the scope of “other emergency communication services,” and accordingly, would also
receive parity of liability protection for such service under the NET 911 Act.
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providers within the scope of our jurisdiction and require them to support text-to-911 service.186 We also
find that text-to-911 service, as we require in this Second Report and Order, satisfies the definition of
“other emergency communications services,” because it clearly provides “emergency information” to a
PSAP via radio communications.187 Accordingly, we conclude that Congress intended that all covered
text providers should be given parity of liability protection for the provision of text-to-911.
Treatment of Voluntary Agreement
In the Second Further Notice, we sought comment on whether and how any rules adopted
in this proceeding could provide a “safe harbor” option for companies that have entered into voluntary
agreements with public safety that the Commission has determined serves the public interest.188 We also
sought comment on what should happen if a company violates its voluntary commitment after being
afforded an opportunity to correct,189 on the potential risks as well as benefits of a “safe harbor” approach
to voluntary commitments,190 and on several ancillary issues, including, inter alia, the nature of an
“election” into a voluntary agreement and whether parties must join a voluntary agreement at its
inception, or may join such an agreement at a later time.191
Several commenters state that such an approach would be appropriate for covered text
providers who have entered into voluntary agreements to support text-to-911.192 NASNA submits that “if
the Commission allows the safe harbor approach, violators should be subject to enforcement action and
should be switched to the rules track for sustained failure to meet the obligations of their voluntary
agreement. Willful and sustained violators are not going to go away as business entities; in order to
ensure the Commission’s goals are met, it may need to take firm action.”193
We find it unnecessary to adopt any “safe harbor” provisions at this time. The only
parties to date that have entered into a voluntary agreement to support text-to-911 are the CMRS provider
parties to the Carrier-NENA-APCO agreement. Because the scope of the rules adopted in this Second
Report and Order is consistent with the scope of their obligations under the voluntary agreement, there is
no need for a “safe harbor.” Since no other parties would be eligible for safe harbor status, we decline to
adopt any such provision here.
The Commission has already committed PSHSB and the Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau (CGB) to implement a comprehensive consumer education program concerning text-to-
911, and to coordinate their efforts with state and local 911 authorities, other federal and state agencies,
public safety organizations, industry, disability organizations, and consumer groups, consistent with those
186 See infra Section III.F.
187 NET 911 Act, 47 U.S.C. § 615a(8)(providing that “[t]he term ‘other emergency communications service' means
the provision of emergency information to a public safety answering point via wire or radio communications, and
may include 9-1-1 and enhanced 9-1-1 service”).
188 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1564 ¶ 58.
189 Id. at 1565 ¶ 59.
190 Id. at 1565 ¶ 60.
191 Id. at 1565 ¶ 61.
192 APCO Second Further Notice Comments at 7; NASNA Second Further Notice Comments at 8; NENA Second
Further Notice Comments at 14-15; T-Mobile Second Further Notice Comments at 14. In contrast, BRETSA
opposes a “safe harbor” approach. BRETSA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 11 (“Providing ‘safe
harbors’ for entities which enter into voluntary agreements could also result in a variety of ‘one-off’ regulations
applicable to various parties, resulting in confusion and inconsistent requirements and results.”).
193 NASNA Second Further Notice Comments at 8.
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voluntary measures taken under the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement.194 We find that the Commission’s
website, together with the continued efforts of PSHSB and CGB, should continue to serve as a leading
means of consumer education, and direct the Bureaus to continue their collaborative efforts.
We also expect that relevant text-to-911 stakeholders will join in and enhance these
educational efforts. We commend the efforts of those stakeholders who have already engaged in
consumer outreach efforts.195 As we implement a comprehensive plan for educating the public on the
availability and features of text-to-911, we must consider all angles of engaging and educating the public,
including those who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities. An effective public education
campaign should invest not only in traditional methods of outreach, such as websites and targeted
education for more vulnerable segments of the population (including people with disabilities and
children), but also in new forms of media – specifically, text messaging. We therefore encourage covered
text providers to use text messaging to inform consumers of the availability of text-to-911 once this
service has commenced in a given area.
In the Bounce-Back Order, the Commission closely examined our legal authority in
connection with text-to-911 service and identified multiple, independent bases of legal authority to
support action in that context. In particular, the Commission found that several provisions of Title III
provide the Commission with direct authority to impose text-to-911 bounce-back requirements on CMRS
providers,196 that the CVAA vests the Commission with direct authority to impose 911 bounce-back
requirements on both CMRS providers and other providers of interconnected text messaging applications,
including OTT providers,197 and that the agency has ancillary authority to apply 911 bounce-back
requirements to providers of interconnected text messaging services, including OTT providers.198 The
Commission explained, inter alia, that imposing 911 bounce-back rules on interconnected text providers
was reasonably ancillary to the Commission’s Title III mandate regarding the use of spectrum, to its
CVAA mandate regarding the migration to fully NG911 capable systems, and to the Commission’s
statutory authority to adopt 911 regulations that ensure that consumers can reach emergency services so
as to promote the safety of life and property.
In the Second Further Notice, we invited parties to comment on whether there are any
reasons why the Commission’s foregoing analysis regarding the sources of its authority in Title III, the
CVAA, and its ancillary authority should not apply in the context of the proposals in the Second Further
194 Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7585 ¶ 82. Educational information about text-to-911 is currently available
on the Commission’s website at http://www.fcc.gov/text-to-911.
195 In particular, we commend the efforts of the Vermont E911 Board, which has launched an extensive text-to-911
consumer education campaign, including an informational website available at
http://e911.vermont.gov/text_to_911.Vermont has released educational videos intended to provide consumers with
information about the availability of text-to-911, including a video in American Sign Language. These videos are
easily accessible through YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCupWBgM92g5V-3YEixr_y_Q (last
accessed June 23, 2014).
196 Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7587-92 ¶¶ 89-99. The Commission found that Sections 301, 303, 307, 309,
and 316 of the Communications, see 47 U.S.C. §§ 301, 303, 307, 309, and 316, taken together or individually,
provide the Commission with authority to apply the bounce-back requirement to CMRS providers. See Bounce-
Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7587-92 ¶¶ 89-99.
197 Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7592-7600 ¶¶ 100-27. The Commission reached this conclusion regarding
its CVAA authority for two reasons. First, the Commission found that its decision was a proper exercise of the
agency’s CVAA authority to promulgate one or more of EAAC’s recommendations. See id. at 7593-98 ¶¶ 106-20.
Second, and alternatively, the Commission found that its decision was a lawful exercise of the agency’s CVAA
authority to promulgate certain “other regulations.” See id. at 7598-7600 ¶¶ 121-27 (quoting 47 U.S.C. § 615c(g)).
198 Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7600-05 ¶¶ 128-40.
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Notice.199 We also sought comment on whether text-to-911 is “achievable and technically feasible” for
interconnected text providers.200
In response to the Second Further Notice, no commenter objects to the Commission’s
authority to require CMRS providers to support text-to-911. On the other hand, several commenters
question the Commission’s authority over interconnected text providers. For example, VON Coalition
does not dispute that the Commission’s direct authority under the CVAA extends to the regulation of
interconnected text providers. However, it raises two separate questions about the use of that direct
authority here. First, it argues that the CVAA precludes any requirement for the use of proprietary
technology, and that the “network and server-based models” would violate this mandate. Second, it
suggests that these two models – in contrast to the “SMS-API model” – “may” violate the CVAA’s
mandate that they be “achievable.”201 Although Verizon does not assert that the Commission does not
have jurisdiction, it similarly cautions that “the Commission’s authority to regulate OTT text messaging
services and applications is limited,” and that the Commission should therefore ensure that any rule
adopted under the CVAA is both technically feasible and achievable.202
VON Coalition’s assertion that we are mandating the use of proprietary technologies,
systems, or services, contrary to the CVAA, is incorrect.203 We recognize that most covered text
providers may well use the interim SMS standard initially; indeed, as noted above, VON Coalition
appears to have no objection to its implementation by December 31, 2014, assuming the cooperation of
CMRS providers.204 However, we do not require the use of any specific technology or text messaging
protocol, as long as the technology or protocol utilized is capable of properly routing and delivering a text
to 911. Finally, as discussed above, we determine that the text-to-911 rules are achievable and technically
As to the alternate basis for authority over interconnected text providers (i.e., as ancillary
to the Commission’s direct sources of statutory authority), VON Coalition seeks to cabin the ancillary
authority outlined in the Bounce-Back Order as designed solely “to ensure that misleading messages are
not sent via radio spectrum.”206 We disagree. Although we need not rely on such ancillary authority
given the direct authority provided by the CVAA, there are multiple reasons why mandating text-to-911
capability by interconnected text providers is within the broad scope of the Commission’s ancillary
As outlined in the Bounce-Back Order, the Commission has broad authority under Title
III to prescribe the nature of the service provided by CMRS providers, and it is undisputed that such
authority extends to requiring text-to-911 capability. Given the growing use of third-party text
applications over CMRS networks by their customers, ensuring that those applications provide text-to-
911 capability is reasonably necessary to promote that capability over spectrum authorized for use under
199 Second Further Notice, 28 FCC Rcd at 1566 ¶ 66. See also Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7587-7605 ¶¶
88-140; Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15721-23 ¶¶ 168-72.
200 Second Further Notice, 28 FCC Rcd at 1566 ¶ 66.
201 VON Coalition Second Further Notice Comments at 9-10. VON Coalition concedes that the SMS-API model “is
technically feasible and achievable,” and “can likely be implemented by i-text providers by the December 31, 2014,
deadline suggested by the Commission.” Id. at 4.
202 Verizon Second Further Notice Comments at 7-8.
203 VON Coalition Second Further Notice Comments at 9-10.
204 Id. at 4-5.
205 See supra Section III.A.2.b.
206 VON Coalition Second Further Notice Comments at 9.
207 47 U.S.C. § 154(i). See also id. § 303(r).
Federal Communications Commission
Title III. Moreover, as the Commission discussed at length in the Bounce-Back Order, consumer
confusion over which texting services would offer text-to-911 would undermine the Commission’s ability
to implement text-to-911 effectively.208 Similarly, the purpose of the CVAA was to expand access to
emergency services for consumers with disabilities, and if our work is undermined by consumer
confusion, we will not be able to fulfill our statutory grant of authority pursuant to the CVAA.209 As
applied here, extending text-to-911 requirements to interconnected text providers as well as CMRS
providers will support the widespread availability of text-to-911 to those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or
speech-disabled, serve to eliminate consumer confusion about the reliability of text-to-911, and thereby
assist the Commission in achieving its mandate under the CVAA. This is particularly true in situations
where voice calls are dangerous, impractical, or simply incapable of being transmitted, or where time is
too critical to require a consumer to determine whether or how she might rely on an alternative CMRS
voice or texting capability.
We also find that adopting text-to-911 rules is reasonably ancillary to the purpose of 911-
related statutes.210 Ensuring that consumers can rely on increasingly popular and data-rich texting
applications to obtain access to 911 service promotes the availability and effectiveness of 911 service
consistent with the central purpose of these statutes.
We do not interpret these sources of authority as granting the Commission unbounded
authority to adopt regulations. Our exercise of ancillary authority here falls squarely within the core of
general grant of jurisdiction in Title I with respect to “all interstate and foreign communication by wire
and radio.”211 This limited but important context is one where Congress has consistently acted and
directed the Commission to ensure that consumers using advanced services, including those provided by
entities that the Commission has not classified as telecommunications carriers, and particularly those
who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled, can reach emergency services.212 Indeed, one of the
principal purposes of the Commission, as set forth by Congress in Section 1 of the Communications Act,
is to ensure that we exercise our substantive grants of authority in a manner that “promot[es] safety of
life of property.”213 We thus find that the exercise of our authority in this case is not only directly
authorized by but also reasonably ancillary to the effective performance of our statutorily mandated
responsibilities. We find that we could not fully realize those responsibilities if consumers do not view
text-to-911 as a reliable means of reaching 911.
208 Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7602 ¶ 133-35. Consumers may not distinguish between whether they are
using an interconnected text application versus the CMRS networks’ native text messaging platform – in all
likelihood, in an emergency situation in which time is critical, consumers will use whatever texting service they
most commonly use and are most comfortable with. If interconnected text messaging applications – commonly used
in lieu of CMRS networks’ native text messaging platforms – do not work, consumers may well erroneously
conclude that the same is true with respect to CMRS network platforms, or they may lose time thereafter
determining how best to navigate to such platforms in emergency situations.
209 Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7602 ¶ 135.
210 Id. at 7603 ¶ 136 n. 342, citing NET 911 Act, 47 U.S.C. § 615a-1 (2008)(codifying the Commission's E911
requirements for interconnected VoIP services and authorizing the Commission to amend those requirements);
Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999, P.L. 106-81, 113 Stat. 1286; 47 U.S.C. § 615a (1999)
(911 Act) (establishing 911 as the national emergency number and requiring the Commission to provide for
appropriate transition periods for areas in which 911 was not in use); Ensuring Needed Help Arrives Near Callers
Employing (ENHANCE) 911 Act of 2004, Pub. L. 108-494, §§ 104, 158 (b)(1); 118 Stat. 3987-3988; 47 U.S.C. §§
901, 942 (2004) (ENHANCE 911 Act) (addressing 911 deployment).
211 Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7600-01 ¶ 129, citing 47 U.S.C. § 152(a).
212 Id. at 7602-3 ¶¶ 134-37 (discussing the 911 Act, the NET 911 Act, and the ENHANCE 911 Act).
213 47 U.S.C. § 151.
Federal Communications Commission
Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture
We find that further examination is needed, in cooperation with state, local, and tribal
jurisdictions and their associated PSAPs, on the current structure and architecture of our nation’s PSAPs.
The large number of PSAPs, now nearing 6800, potentially increases the costs and resources needed from
the communications industry, public safety community, and state, local, and tribal governments. In
particular, we are interested in determining whether additional consolidation of PSAP facilities and
architecture would promote greater efficiency of operations, safety of life, and cost containment, while
retaining needed integration with local first responder dispatch and support. This issue is especially
timely as public safety communications systems are converting to NG9-1-1 in the coming years. It is also
important because a number of states continue to divert critical E911 funding from its intended purposes
to unrelated functions. Specifically, the most recent annual FCC report to Congress on this issue found
that four states are still diverting such funds and, equally troubling, one state and four territories declined
to even respond to our inquiry.214
CSRIC last updated the Commission on this subject with the issuance of its 2010 final
report on public safety consolidation.215 In its report, CSRIC’s working group stated that “[r]ecent trends
toward regional, multi-jurisdictional and multi-disciplinary solutions with standards based shared systems
have demonstrated that they can lead to technical, operational, and financial advantages for the
While that report is useful, a new review and updated data, given the numerous changes
in technology, would be informative. Accordingly, we direct PSHSB, consistent with any and all
requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act,217 to convene a task force that includes
representatives from state, local and tribal authorities and the currently constituted CSRIC to study and
report findings and recommendations on the following issues by April 30, 2015: 1) optimal PSAP system
and network configuration in terms of emergency communications efficiency, performance, and
operations functionality; 2) cost projections for conversion to and annual operation of PSAPs that
incorporate such optimal system design; 3) comparative cost projections for annual maintenance of all
existing PSAPs annually and upgrading them to NG911; 4) recommendations on ways to prevent states
from diverting E911 funding to other purposes;218 and 5) whether states that divert E911 funds should be
ineligible to participate on various FCC councils, committees, and working groups.219 These
recommendations will provide a benchmark for the Commission, state, local, and tribal authorities,
PSAPs and others to compare approaches for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the nation’s
current and future 911 system.
THIRD FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING
While we recognize that enhanced location information is not yet universally attainable
for texts to 911 over either SMS or other messaging platforms protocols under development, we seek
214 Fifth Annual Report to Congress on State Collection and Distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 Fees and
Charges (rel. Dec. 31, 2013) at 13, Table 4.
215 CSRIC Working Group 1A, Key Findings and Effective Practices for Public Safety Consolidation, Final Report
(Oct. 2010) (CSRIC Public Safety Consolidation Report).
216 CSRIC Public Safety Consolidation Report at 5.
217 5 U.S.C.A. App. 2.
218 The NET 911 Act does not prevent the ability to impose and collect fees for the support or implementation of 9-
1-1 services, “provided that the fee or charge is obligated or expended only in support of 9-1-1 and enhanced 9-1-1
services, or enhancements of such services, as specified in the provision of State or local law adopting the fee or
charge.” 47 U.S.C. § 615a-1(f)(1).
219 In making its recommendations, the task force should also take appropriate account of Section 410 of the
Communications Act governing joint boards and commissions. See 47 U.S.C. § 410.
Federal Communications Commission
comment below on the specific approaches and a likely timeframe for covered text providers to achieve
the capability to provide enhanced location with text-to-911 communications. This additional
functionality will enable PSAPs to dispatch first responders more directly and quickly to the scene of an
emergency.220 We acknowledge the collaborative effort underlying CSRIC’s Enhanced Location Report
and CSRIC’s recommendation that the Commission “refrain from wireless E9-1-1 Phase II-like
mandates” for SMS text to 911 service and instead encourage further development and implementation of
more robust solutions.221 CSRIC’s report, however, suggests that one CMRS provider can currently
deliver enhanced location information, using a commercial location-based technology in support of SMS
text-to-911.222 In light of our important public safety interest in delivering more accurate location
information with texts to 911, and considering that enhanced location technologies already exist and that
other standards development beyond the current J-STD-110 have been underway, we see no reason to
delay the potentially life-saving delivery of enhanced location information.
However, in light of CSRIC’s concern about “Phase II-like mandates,” and the current
state of technology, we believe a less specific obligation is appropriate as an initial matter. We propose
that, no later than two years of the effective date of the adoption of final rules on enhanced location,
covered text providers must deliver enhanced location information (consisting of the best available
location that covered text providers could obtain from any available location technology or combination
of technologies, including device-based location) with texts to 911. We seek comment on whether
solutions could be developed to provide enhanced location in this timeframe and, if not, what would be a
suitable timeframe. Our ultimate location accuracy objective is to require covered text providers to
deliver all communications with 911 with location information that is sufficiently granular to provide a
As noted above, for purposes of a near-term requirement, we propose to use the term
“enhanced location” to mean the best available location. We recognize that the granularity of the
enhanced location may vary by text-to-911 session, according to the user’s particular device capabilities
and settings. In some instances, we would expect that the device would approximate the user’s address,
consistent with what a consumer could expect from commercial location-based services (cLBS)
capabilities today. We believe an enhanced location requirement would provide substantial public safety
benefits to consumers who need to reach 911 through text-capable communications.
We seek comment
on this assertion below, particularly to the extent to which such improvements would result in tangible
benefits with respect to the safety of life and property compared to the cost of meeting the proposed
Technical feasibility. The Policy Statement and Second Further Notice indicated that
“developing the capability to provide Phase II-comparable location information” with 911 text messages
“would be part of the long-term evolution of text-to-911.”225 Although the Commission did not propose a
date certain to meet such a location requirement, the Second Further Notice requested comment on the
220 Policy Statement and Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1548 ¶ 3.
221 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 1-2.
222 Id. at 18.
223 See Wireless E911 Location Accuracy Requirements, PS Docket No. 07-114, Third Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 29 FCC Rcd 2374, 2395 ¶ 50 (2014) (E911 Location Accuracy Third Further Notice) (describing the
Commission’s long-term goal of “dispatchable address,” which includes the caller’s building address, floor level,
and suite/room number).
224 See infra Section IV.C.
225 Policy Statement and Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1548 ¶ 3.
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provision of Phase II-equivalent location information with text-to-911 calls.226 In response, the majority
of commenters indicate that delivery of enhanced location information is not possible at this time.227
CSRIC’s Enhanced Location Report assesses the capability to include enhanced location
information for SMS text-to-911 services and addresses the limitations of the current standard, ATIS/TIA
J-STD-110, underlying SMS text-to-911. In view of the differences between the SMS text platform and
the CMRS network,228 CSRIC finds three key limitations contributing to the problem of delivering
enhanced location information over SMS architecture: (1) the current standard does not include a
specification for the emergency message interaction with the handset, such that an emergency text to 911
cannot enable location information by overriding user location privacy settings and GPS location
capabilities enabled by the handset;229 (2) enhanced location information takes more time to generate than
coarse location, such that relying on enhanced location to initially route an SMS text to 911 could delay
the routing process up to 30 seconds;230 and (3) only some of the location platforms that are currently
deployed have the technology necessary to generate enhanced location information.231 CSRIC’s
Enhanced Location Report concludes that “there is no solution for generating enhanced location in an
SMS text to 9-1-1 session for any currently deployed systems that does not require user equipment (UE)
changes, network changes, or both.”232
Although current text-to-911 deployments may not support enhanced location, CSRIC’s
report recommends several approaches that stakeholders could explore to provide enhanced location
information during SMS text-to-911 sessions. In particular, CSRIC examines four approaches:
(1) network-based location;233 (2) handset-based approaches;234 (3) end-to-end text-to-911 with location
226 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1563-64 ¶¶ 41-44.
227 For example, T-Mobile contends that “since SMS-based text-to-911 does not place the handset into Emergency
Service Mode, certain user interface and privacy settings may restrict the use of some location technologies that
would otherwise be available for an E911 voice call.” See T-Mobile Second Further Notice Comments at 7; see also
Verizon Second Further Notice Comments at 13. (“Routing for wireless 911 voice calls is pre-determined according
to the location of the cell sector that receives the 911 call as that data is entered into the stand-alone 911 location
server,” while for text-to-911, the commercial location server is used “to obtain the serving cell location” based on a
“cell sector centroid (a.k.a. the ‘coarse location’) for routing the call” to the PSAP).
228 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 12 (stating that “[w]ireless E9-1-1 relies on the ATIS/TIA J-STD-036 call
procedures and call flows that are fundamentally different than how an SMS text message is initiated”). CSRIC
adds that processing an E911 voice call includes “specialized emergency network functions” (either a Mobile
Positioning Center (MPC) for CDMA networks or a Gateway Mobile Location Center (GMLC) for GSM/UMTS
networks) to initially route the call, based on serving cell site information linked to a civic location and specific
229 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 14. See infra at Section IV.A, para. 99 (discussing the problem of privacy
230 Id. at 14. CSRIC reports that “[f]iner grained location information that is dynamically generated takes more time
. . . given the nature of real-time measurements and network latencies in processing a real-time position estimate.”
231 Id. at 14 (finding that “enhanced location depends on a variety of measurement inputs – some which may not be
available” when the location is requested. An adverse impact on “overall yield of the location” can result).
232 See supra Section III.B, para. 58, quoting CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 1. See also CSRIC Enhanced
Location Report at 21, Sec. 6.2 “Findings – Updating Location Information.”
233 CSRIC considers two network-based location methods: Uplink Time Difference of Arrival (U-TDOA) and Radio
Frequency Pattern Matching (RFPM). The U-TDOA location method “make[s] time or power measurements on the
radio interface to determine the device position, which requires the handset to be in a radio frequency (‘RF’)
transmit state for a brief period (about 1 second) of time, but SMS communication is not blocked during that
interval. [Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems] has built-in procedures to bring the handset to a state in
Federal Communications Commission
embedded in the SMS message,235 and (4) a modified “embedded location” approach using a user-
downloaded texting application.236 We seek comment on these different approaches, as described in the
Enhanced Location Report, and whether they could support the delivery of enhanced location information
with texts to 911 in a near-term timeframe. What challenges must be overcome and what are the costs
associated with implementation of the different approaches?237 In what timeframe could these approaches
We observe that using device-specific location appears to be technically feasible, given
CSRIC’s remark that handset-based location technology, “using cLBS methods, is currently being used
by at least one U.S. CDMA carrier for network deployments supporting SMS text-to-9-1-1.”238 We
acknowledge CSRIC’s findings that the delivery of more granular location information than coarse
location continues to present challenges. For this reason, we believe that an enhanced location
requirement that is premised upon the delivery of best available location, using any available location
technology or combination of technologies, strikes a balance that promotes our important public safety
objectives, while being practicable and reasonable within these potential limitations. We seek comment
on how “best available” location information would be determined. Among multiple “available”
locations, what would determine which available location information is “best?” What are the necessary
conditions for a location technology to be considered “available,” to the device, such that a covered text
provider may use it for routing or providing additional location information? Are there any additional
factors we should consider with respect to assessing what should be considered the “best available
location” for a particular text-to-911 session?
In addition to the approaches examined by CSRIC, two commenters suggest that the
delivery of some form of enhanced location information by CMRS providers is technically feasible in the
near term. First, TruePosition contends that existing network-based U-TDOA location capabilities could
be used to deliver location information, with “relatively minor development effort,” for texts to 911.239
TruePosition asserts that, although “[t]he solutions produced by the voluntary Carrier-NENA-APCO
agreement, and the J-STD-110 standard, do not currently define an interface protocol to retrieve
sender/customer location information,” those solutions provide a platform “to build a more permanent
solution to the problem of identifying the location of the customer who has sent an emergency text
(Continued from previous page)
which it can be located using U-TDOA.” CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 18. RFPM “relies on [user
equipment] measurements that are reported to a server for location determination.” Id.
234 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 18.
235 Id. at 20 (the A-GPS-based location information, including latitude and longitude, “would be appended at the end
of the text message as soon as the user presses the SEND button”). CSRIC adds that if the location information
were unavailable at “SEND,” a follow-up text message would be sent as soon as the information is available. See id.
236 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report, Sec. 6, and “Updating Location Information During SMS Text to 9-1-1,” at
237 We note that, for the handset-based approach, CSRIC explains that consumers must download a location agent
application to allow the use of commercial location-based service (cLBS) methods to support location requests from
the TCC. CSRIC notes, however, that users must turn off their location privacy settings for the cLBS and that
“[t]his approach does not currently work with all US operating systems.” CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 19.
We address the topics of leveraging cLBS and privacy issues in greater detail below. See infra, Sec. IV.A., paras.
238 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 18.
239 Comments of TruePosition, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed Apr. 4, 2014) at 6 (TruePosition Second
Further Notice Comments)(asserting that this capability could be implemented “by the transmission of an SMS
receive acknowledgement of either the response SMS from the PSAP, or a ‘silent’ SMS sent to the device for the
specific purpose of locating it”). The WG1 Report notes that TruePosition’s specific proposed solution “was not
included due lack of support from other members.” See CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 13, n.36.
Federal Communications Commission
message.”240 We seek comment on the technical feasibility of TruePosition’s proposed approach and
whether it offers a path forward for providing enhanced location. Would the “silent SMS” approach be
feasible for other location determination mechanisms other than U-TDOA, such as A-GPS? What
standards development work would be necessary to implement such an approach?
Second, TCS asserts that what it characterizes as “updated Phase II compatible” location
technology is readily available to CMRS providers as deployable cLBS platforms, and that such solutions
can be deployed either by the user or the CMRS provider.241 According to TCS, these cLBS solutions
support existing 2G and 3G systems, and are possible under the current J-STD-110.242 TCS’s view
appears to be consistent with CSRIC’s reporting that the J-STD-110 architecture also “allows for routing
based on a more accurate enhanced location,”243 and that one U.S. CMRS provider is using “using cLBS
methods.”244 CSRIC observes, however, that while enhanced location may be possible where a cLBS
platform is available, “based on a CMRS provider’s existing network infrastructure, the availability to
provide a cLBS platform can be limited or technically challenging.”245 We seek comment on these
particular implementation challenges, and whether it would be possible for covered text providers to
deliver enhanced location information in this manner within a near-term timeframe.
Further, the comment record indicates that technical complexities exist for interconnected
text providers to deliver enhanced location.246 For example, Microsoft submits that, for OTT applications,
“the cell site location is not readily available” and that server-based implementation approaches would
require testing of location accuracy information, as well as the creation of “standardized acquisition and
transmission of that location information” through TCC gateways.247 Bandwidth contends that there is a
need for location accuracy solutions that are consistent with both established technical standards
supporting existing CMRS solutions and “a broad range of application-derived location solutions
commonly used by today’s OTT providers.”248
TCS proposes that OTT providers leverage the existing J-
STD-110 standard to require that “emergency text message requests re-use existing SMS APIs in the
device, effectively changing the OTT text message interaction into an SMS message dialogue . . .”249
TCS submits that, although this approach “would require OTT text application software modifications,” it
240 TruePosition Second Further Notice Comments at 5. TruePosition submits that “existing network-based U-
TDOA location capabilities can be used to locate a device by the transmission of an SMS receive acknowledgement
of either the response SMS from the PSAP, or a ‘silent’ SMS” message to a handset device for the purpose of
locating the user texting 911. Id. at 6.
241 In TCS’s view, the standard thus provides the capability “to request updated location to an originating network's
location platform.” TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 13.
242 TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 13 (asserting such capability is possible through the Open Mobile
Alliance (OMA) Mobile Location Protocol (MLP)). TCS states that the cLBS platforms are “deployable” in both
“control plane and user plane configurations.” Id.
243 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 15.
244 Id. at 18.
245 Id. at 13.
246 We note that the capability of interconnected text providers to send enhanced location information was not within
the scope of CSRIC’s Report. CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 5.
247 Microsoft Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 11-12 (also adding that “[i]f an interconnected application
is capturing location information from the device . . . then it must be determined” whether maker of the device or
application or a third-party location database service has the legal obligation to test and prove the accuracy of that
248 Bandwidth Second Further Notice Comments at 2.
249 TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 13.
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“represents the shortest path to having support for emergency OTT text.”250
We seek comment on the
different approaches described by TCS, as well as any additional proposals that would resolve the
technical issues of covered text providers in delivering enhanced location information.
Further Standards-Setting Work. Most commenters indicate that standards bodies and
covered text providers will need more time to develop and implement the capability to deliver enhanced
location information with texts to 911. Many of the commenters believe that, rather than investing further
to modify the interim J-STD-110, the standards work should focus on a long-term approach that would
incorporate the enhanced features and location capabilities that NG911 is expected to provide for more
granular location information.251 For example, NENA supports a longer-term approach based on
standards efforts that “would incorporate an integrated location standard which . . . would apply to both
voice and text service providers.”252 Additionally, CSRIC reports that modifying the J-STD-110 “would
require substantial [3GPP] standards development work, requiring significant development costs and
potentially lead to major operational impacts on existing network systems.”253 We seek comment on the
extent to which development of enhanced location solutions for the interim SMS standard would divert
resources from NG911 solutions. We also seek comment on when the relevant standards work,
referenced by the commenters, is likely to be completed, and whether covered text providers ultimately
will be capable of providing dispatchable address information, consistent with the Commission’s long-
We note that Verizon indicates there is “under development” standards work on the
Global Text Telephony (GTT) standard. Verizon asserts that this effort focuses on providing capabilities
for LTE networks “to include more precise caller location than cell site location by leveraging the same
location solution currently under development for VoLTE.”254 We seek comment on the current status of
250 Id. (adding that the scope of the J-STD-110 standard “could be extended to include its approach and other
potential solutions”). TCS also suggests that OTT providers could use “a CMRS-supplied and-authenticated data
connection to a CMRS-contracted TCC,” such that “location acquisition is managed by the TCC and supplied by the
CMRS provider’s network.” Id. at 14.
251 See AT&T Second Further Notice Comments at 6 (stating that “its resources are better directed to the broader
NG911 solution that includes support for a real-time Text-to-911 access service —e.g., [MMES] standards through
both the [3GPP] and [ATIS] processes” and that it would support “the appropriate standards bodies and CSRIC “to
come up with appropriate cost-effective solutions . . . .”). See also Sprint Second Further Notice Comments at 9
(“Requiring carriers to enhance and expand the capabilities of the interim solution will require further development
effort, time and expense. These resources will be diverted from efforts to implement NG9-1-1, which promises to
provide enhanced features and capabilities including the possibility of more precise location information.”).
Microsoft also adds that “an industry-wide . . . approach, preferably working through international standards bodies .
. .” may be necessary. Microsoft Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 6 (noting “the challenges in . . .
conveying the location of [a device using] an app, which is inherently global in nature”).
252 NENA Second Further Notice Comments at 9 (“consistent with the Commission’s enunciated long-term goal” of
a unitary accuracy standard). But see NASNA Second Further Notice Comments at 5-6 (“If the interim solution will
be used for the next 10 years while the migration to end-state NG911 continues, then it needs to include precise
253 See CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 6 (noting the standards work of the “3rd Generation Partnership Project
(‘3GPP) and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 (‘3GPP2’)”).
254 Verizon Second Further Notice Comments at 16. Global Text Telephony allows real time texting capability; it is
also “defined in a set of host environments, circuit switched as well as packet switched.” See ETSI 3 GPP,
Technical Specification, Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS); Global Text Telephony (GTT);
Stage 2 (3GPP TS 23.226 version 5.2.0 Release 5 (2002-03) at 5, available at
May 30, 2014). Consequently, it appears that GTT can enable “[i]nterworking with corresponding features in other
networks . . . .” See id. The latest release for GTT is Release 11, focusing primarily on “Real Time Texting” (real-
time text or RTT). Real-time text offers real time conversation in text, to be used alone or in combination with other
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the GTT standards effort for the following potential capabilities: (1) providing interoperability or
interworking between text messaging platforms and E911 legacy and NG911 networks; and (2) enabling
CMRS and other covered text providers to deliver granular location information to PSAPs as more CMRS
providers implement LTE networks.
Further, the record indicates that LTE networks present the opportunity for providing
enhanced location determination with text.255 We seek comment on what measures covered text providers
would need to take to implement in LTE networks the ability to provide enhanced location. What would
be the costs of implementing such capability? What should the Commission do to encourage the
necessary standards work?
Similarly, we seek comment on the provision of enhanced location information with
MMS-to-911 texts and for location determination of MMS callers. For purposes of providing enhanced
location information, MMS-to-911 will need to be evaluated once ATIS develops such standard in which
cost effectiveness of MMS is considered, as well as potential problems with receiving MMS at PSAPs.
What is the status of standards work on MMS messaging to include enhanced location information? We
also seek comment on what factors exist that could affect covered text providers’ use of MMS to route
texts to 911 with enhanced location information. Will the eventual sunset of SMS further our goal of
providing dispatchable address information for communications to 911 on all text-capable media?256 We
seek comment on the costs for covered text providers to develop, test, and implement the capability to
provide enhanced location information using MMS.
Finally, the record reflects that the technological developments and standards-setting
efforts on LTE networks, MMS, and multimedia message emergency services (MMES) have already
commenced.257 With developments in the CMRS wireless industry to migrate to LTE networks already
underway, and the continued evolution and growth of OTT text applications in response to consumer
demand, we believe that a reasonable basis exists to anticipate that within the near future, standards
bodies will be adopting or releasing standards that address the provision of enhanced location information
for 911 text messages. We seek comment on this view.
Enhanced Location through the Use of Commercial Location-Based Services. As
described above, cLBS may present a solution for covered text providers to deliver enhanced location
information in the near term.258 In light of the significant potential that cLBS might offer, we seek
comment on the technical, privacy, and security issues associated with using cLBS for text-to-911
enhanced location information. 259
CSRIC suggests that the use of cLBS platforms is limited and
challenging.260 More specifically, CSRIC reports that, concerning cLBS support for A-GPS generated
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conversational media, and interworking with current and emerging text conversation features in the fixed networks
and other mobile networks. See infra, Section IV.D, para. 132.
255 We note that CSRIC’s Report does not address LTE networks. See CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 6 (“LTE
and IMS, the standards of which include the implementation of MMES and Global Text Telephony (‘GTT’), are not
considered in this report. MMES and GTT both have their own envisioned methods by which text messages can be
sent to Public Safety with location estimates included.”).
256 See infra Section IV.D, paras. 123-24 (for further discussion of the Commission’s goals with respect to future
257 See Verizon Second Further Notice Comments at 16; NENA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 6; ATIS
Second Further Notice Comments at 5.
258 See supra Section IV.A, para. 89 (addressing TCS’s proposal for using cLBS).
259 Here, we take cLBS to refer narrowly to the location services that allow a third party to query for the geo-location
of a device, rather than many cLBS, such as apps, that rely on location information provided by operating system
location application programming interfaces (APIs).
260 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 13.
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location information, “not all carriers have location platforms capable of providing A-GPS location fixes
to support the [TCC].”261
The record is mixed concerning capabilities for covered text providers to use cLBS
platforms. T-Mobile urges that“[t]he Commission . . . ensure that any rules it adopts regarding SMS text-
to-911 location information acknowledge the fundamental difference between Phase II E911 voice
location estimates and cLBS-based enhanced location estimates,” and that “those requirements must be
grounded in the technical and economic limitations of the cLBS service.”262 ATIS suggests that location
information derived from cLBS may be a “‘best available’ location” and “not equivalent to the location
information obtained for voice emergency calls.”263 Similarly, CSRIC observes that CMRS providers do
not exercise the same control over cLBS platforms as they do for E911 voice calls, and thus, “location
estimates may or may not be as reliable or accurate” as E911 voice location technologies.264
We seek further comment on how cLBS could be leveraged to provide enhanced location
information for text-to-911 in the short term and more granular, dispatchable address information in the
long term. While cLBS may deliver location information that is not equivalent to voice location, there are
also many instances where cLBS could offer even more granular location than Phase II information
provided with voice calls to 911. In fact, consumers today regularly use applications that leverage cLBS
to pinpoint their location to a high level of precision. We recognize, however, that cLBS information may
vary in quality and reliability. How likely is it that location information derived from cLBS will increase
in reliability and accuracy over time? What additional standards work must be accomplished? What
would be the costs for covered text providers to test and implement the capabilities that cLBS offer?
Privacy. Commenters submit that leveraging cLBS services for purposes of providing
enhanced location information raises privacy concerns. For example, Verizon notes that, in order to
deliver location information using cLBS, covered text providers may “need to maintain ongoing access to
providers’ and devices’ commercial [LBS] capabilities,”265 which “may require a user to turn off all the
device’s privacy settings with respect to all communications, not just 911-related communications.”266
Sprint and other commenters observe that with cLBS, “a user is capable of disabling GPS location
services on the device and there is currently no ‘override’ that exists on most wireless handsets to enable
GPS to function if a text message is directed to emergency services.”267 Motorola Mobility adds that
261 Id. at 11.
262 T-Mobile Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 7-8. See also Verizon Second Further Notice Reply
Comments at 9 (suggesting that cLBS can be leveraged to implement “location capabilities through IP-enabled and
standards based [GTT] services”).
263 ATIS Second Further Notice Comments at 5 (concerning a study underway on “the expected use of
enhanced/updated location information upon a rebid by the PSAP”).
264 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 23.
265 Verizon Second Further Notice Comments at 15.
266 Id. See also Motorola Mobility Second Further Notice Comments at 5 (“[r]obust privacy settings . . . empower
[consumers] to limit disclosure of their location and other personal information to native and third-party
267 Sprint Second Further Notice Comments at 10; Motorola Mobility Second Further Notice Comments at 5 (stating
that the override “this functionality does not currently exist for text messaging or other functions.”); Twilio Second
Further Notice Comments at 6-7 (“An OTT application’s ability to access and provide accurate location information
may [ ] be limited by… the user’s preferences to restrict an application’s access to location information.”); CCA
Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 5 (“[a]ttempting to use commercial location services for 911
communications presents . . . issues, including subscriber disablement of location data through privacy settings . . .
built into the handsets which do not allow for use of commercial [LBS]”); T-Mobile Second Further Notice Reply
Comments at 6-7 (“Carriers and TCC vendors . . . do not have the capability or the authority to override those
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“[t]he ability to override location privacy, both for an OTT interconnected [application] or the native SMS
application on the device, is not at all straightforward and may require OS or modem firmware
changes.”268 CSRIC also reports that the capability to override privacy settings may not be possible,
depending on the smartphone operating system and the device’s equipment manufacturer.269
We seek comment on what solutions need to be developed for cLBS platforms to address
these privacy issues. What technological developments and standards work needs to occur to override
privacy settings for SMS text-based applications over legacy networks in order for enhanced location to
be acquired and transmitted consistently to PSAPs with texts to 911? How quickly could these
modifications be made? We emphasize that any such override of a user’s device settings should be
limited to those instances where a user is sending a 911 text message, and for the sole purpose of
delivering the 911 text message to the appropriate PSAP.270 Similarly, in the long term, for advanced
NG911-compatible networks, such as IP-based text over LTE networks, what technological developments
and standards work by stakeholders must occur to enable overriding of privacy settings for emergency
texts to 911? The record generally suggests that, at least for a certain subset of devices, covered text
providers and OS providers routinely upgrade the firmware and OS software.271 Could any modifications
to implement emergency overriding of privacy settings be accomplished in this manner? What are the
specific costs that both firmware and software approaches would entail?
Finally, what measures can or should the Commission take to address Heywire’s
contention that OS providers and hardware manufacturers have been removing or disabling access to geo-
location functions available to applications outside of the native pre-authorized applications?272 How
many applications and what OS platforms have been affected by this? What coordination must occur to
address the issue of privacy settings?
Security. The record further indicates that the technical and privacy issues in
implementing enhanced location over cLBS also raise the issue of security. TCS contends that
“application-managed location solutions place too much reliance on handset environment, configuration,
and capability and are subject to security threats, including authentication and location spoofing.”273
Motorola Mobility asserts that “[a]ny location privacy override solution for SMS to 911 must be
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settings, as they do for voice E911 calls, thus limiting their ability—and that of OTT text providers—to obtain that
information and pass it along to PSAPs.”).
268 Motorola Mobility Second Further Notice Comments at 5.
269 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 19-21 (the two approaches are (1) “End-to-End Text to 9-1-1 With [A-GPS]
Location Embedded in SMS Message Using System SMS application” and (2) “End-to-End Text to 9-1-1 Using
Location Embedded in SMS Message Using User-Downloadable Texting Application.”).
270 In this discussion, we are focused on the development of standards necessary to enable an “emergency mode” for
texts to 911, similar to the functionality that would be enabled if the user were to place a voice call to 911.
271 WG1 describes firmware “as typically refers[ing] to low level software in a wireless device, such as operating
system, wireless modem, pre-loaded applications, or low level services software, that can only be changed by, or
made available by, the OEM. The term firmware is used to differentiate from software applications that may be
downloaded by the user in the field from any application provider.” CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 37, n.16.
272 See Heywire Second Further Notice Comments at 7 (asserting that “OS providers and corresponding hardware
manufacturers” have recently acted to remove or disable “access to geo-location functions available to applications
outside of the native pre-authorized applications” and that a technical solution for permitting access to such
functionality “would require significant time to bring to market”).
273 TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 12-13. TCS submits that “[e]merging standards for attaining trusted
location information should be considered in any approach,” and that, for OTT providers, “[a]ny text-to-911 service
offered should be able to support authentication and authorization by the Mobile Network Operator (MNO)” and
“[a]ll text-to-911 subscribers should be identifiable with an identity that could support callback to the subscriber.”
Id. at 12-14.
Federal Communications Commission
thoroughly validated using elaborate regression testing,”274 and that “[w]hile the [original equipment
manufacturers] that develop smartphones could apply such rigorous testing to the system SMS
[application], they have no control over the testing regimen applied to an OTT [application].”275
We seek comment on what solutions need to be developed for cLBS to enable enhanced
location capability that is secure. What measures can the Commission take to promote secure enhanced
location capability and guard against security risks such as location spoofing? What would the cost
burdens be on covered text providers, OS providers, and other stakeholders? Should we task CSRIC with
location issues further – particularly in the context of making recommendations for enabling the use of
cLBS and addressing security concerns to provide enhanced location for texts-to-911?
Timeframe. Based on the CSRIC Enhanced Location Report and the record, we seek
comment on the timeframe in which covered text providers could reasonably offer either enhanced
location information or more granular location information sufficient to provide dispatchable address
information for some or all text-to-911 users. Based on the record, if we wait for covered text providers
to migrate from interim SMS solutions to 4G LTE solutions before including enhanced location, we may
be looking at a time horizon of five years or more.276
TruePosition submits that “some message text
providers have suggested that it may take . . . between four to nine years for a significant majority of their
subscribers to migrate to a yet-to-be-finalized permanent solution to this problem via Next Generation
In light of the serious public safety implications, we seek comment on what can be
accomplished to deliver enhanced location in a shorter timeframe. With respect to the timeframe to
migrate to LTE, TruePosition contends it is “simply far too long to wait while tens of millions of wireless
users are left without a Phase II-like location capability.”278 We agree. While NENA asserts that a
“Commission mandate for enhanced text location capabilities would, at this juncture, be premature,”279 it
notes that “multiple industry stakeholders have already begun developing solutions to enable more precise
location capabilities . . . .”280 RWA suggests that its members will need “at least two years” to “be
capable of achieving more precise location capabilities.”281 Heywire adds that an “undertaking” to
address OS providers and hardware manufacturers removing or disabling access to “geo-location
functions” could take “at least two years,” and that “until … a technical method” is found, “it would be
impossible to establish a realistic timeframe . . . .”282 In light of these comments, and balanced against the
significant public policy interest and statutory mandate to promote public safety, we believe that a two-
year timeframe to provide enhanced location – from the adoption of final rules on this issue – should be
reasonable. We seek comment on this view, as well as how the various factors discussed above, including
274 Motorola Mobility Second Further Notice Comments at 5.
276 CSRIC estimates that the interim J-STD-110 solution has an “expected end of lifespan of 5 to 10 years,” with
carrier-based SMS text to 9-1-1 “supported by 2nd Generation (‘2G’) and 3rd Generation (‘3G’) networks. CSRIC
Enhanced Location Report at 6. CSRIC adds that “[a]s these legacy wireless networks are phased out of service, it
is probable that SMS text to- 9-1-1 will be supplanted by newer texting technologies . . . as LTE devices with
MMES and/or GTT capabilities are sufficiently embedded into carrier subscriber bases.” Id.
277 TruePosition Second Further Notice Comments at 5-6 (italics in original).
278 Id. at 6.
279 NENA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 11.
280 Id. at 6.
281 RWA Second Further Notice Comments at 3.
282 Heywire Second Further Notice Comments at 7 (concerning “implementation of a Phase II solution”).
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privacy and security concerns, would impact the establishment of timeframes for covered text providers
to deliver enhanced location information.
Confidence and Uncertainty. Finally, we seek comment on CSRIC’s recommendation
that “[a]lthough not all location platforms may be capable of delivering enhanced location information,
when such information is available it should be delivered with uncertainty and confidence values.”283
CSRIC recommends that the Commission “encourage appropriate standards development organizations to
incorporate confidence and uncertainty values into existing standards for enhanced location when it can
be provided.”284 Is this a necessary component for the delivery of enhanced location with texts to 911?
Additionally, CSRIC observes that only one Class of Service (CoS) designation is available under the
interim J-STD-110 and recommends adding CoS values to assist PSAPs “in determining the best way to
use additional resources to locate a caller in the event the location is not provided or the location that is
verbally provided is inaccurate.”285 We seek comment on CSRIC’s recommendations and how these
additional features would support the provision of enhanced location for texts to 911, and whether they
would help PSAPs respond to texts to 911 by dispatching emergency resources more expeditiously.
In the Second Further Notice, we emphasized that access to 911 through text messaging
is just as critical for roaming consumers as it is for consumers utilizing a home CMRS provider’s
network, especially because consumers may be unaware of when they are roaming.286 As NENA
explains, “[c]onsumers often have no way of knowing whether their text-capable device is attached to a
cell sector belonging to their home provider’s own network or to a sector belonging to a roaming
partner.”287 According to APCO, “terms such as ‘home network’ . . . mean little to the average consumer
or PSAP.”288 Further, roaming is necessary to encourage competition by allowing smaller and rural
CMRS providers the ability to offer their subscribers services comparable to those of larger CMRS
providers. We recognize that roaming limitations are likely to disproportionately affect subscribers of
smaller and rural CMRS providers, which often “rely extensively” on roaming.289 As CCA argues,
“smaller carriers and the customers they serve will be particularly impacted by a prolonged absence of
any out-of-network capability to text-to-911, potentially putting these smaller carriers at a competitive
Moreover, we acknowledged in the Second Further Notice that routing 911 text messages
from roaming consumers presented technical complexities that might be necessary to resolve before we
283 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 2. CSRIC describes uncertainty as “the radius of a circle centered at the
reported position (latitude/longitude) within which the caller’s actual location is expected to fall within a certain
percentage.” The confidence level represents that same percentage and “is meant to represent the probability of a
caller falling within the uncertainty circle.” CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 22.
284 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 2.
285 Id. at 22.
286 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1565-66 ¶ 48 (adding that “carrier coverage maps may reflect coverage
where [consumers] may only have roaming agreements”). See also Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 15707-08 ¶¶
287 NENA Second Further Notice Comments at 10. We recognize that some handset screens may display either a
symbol or other indication that a consumer is roaming. However, this is not always the case. For instance, some
CMRS providers may offer all-inclusive service plans that do not differentiate between a subscriber remaining in the
CMRS provider’s service area or roaming.
288 APCO Second Further Notice Comments at 6.
289 NENA Second Further Notice Comments at 10.
290 CCA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 6.
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could require covered text providers to support text-to-911 in roaming situations.291 A key component of
providing text-to-911 while roaming is obtaining location information to ensure proper routing of the text
to the appropriate PSAP. Current SMS text delivery protocols do not allow for location information to be
included with SMS texts-to-911 while roaming, which precludes the ability of covered text providers to
route texts to an appropriate PSAP. SMS texts to 911 are handled by the consumer’s home network,292
which routes the text to the appropriate PSAP based on coarse location the TCC obtains from a location
server in the home CMRS provider’s network.293 When a consumer is roaming, the SMS text-to-911 is
sent back to the home network for handling.294 As T-Mobile explains, “[l]ocation lookup occurs in the
home network,” but “in the case of roaming SMS messages, that lookup, which allows the TCC to
determine whether an applicable PSAP accepts 911 texts, will fail because the location information was
not generated by the home network but rather by the serving network, and the serving network does not
pass along this location data with the SMS.”295
While the record shows that roaming cannot be supported for text-to-911 at this time,
there is also evidence that there may be several different solutions that could be implemented to address
this issue.296 We therefore refrain from adopting a roaming requirement at this time, but propose to
require covered text providers to support roaming for text-to-911 no later than two years from the
effective date of the adoption of final roaming rules, and we seek comment on this approach.
Specifically, we seek comment on whether solutions could be developed to provide roaming support in
this timeframe and, if not, what would be a suitable timeframe.297
One potential solution would be to update the current text-to-911 standard for SMS to
provide for sharing of cell sector data through a hub-and-spoke mechanism. RWA notes that “the
establishment of a centralized database of supported PSAPs accessible to all carriers could address this
issue.”298 Using a “hub-and-spoke” model, CCA states, “carriers’ location platforms would interconnect
into a centralized hub which could make cell sector information available to all connected providers.”299
We seek comment on the technical feasibility of adopting the hub-and-spoke approach to address near-
291 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1565-66 ¶ 48. For example, the current standard for text-to-911,
ATIS/TIA J-STD-110, as well as the Carrier-APCO-NENA Agreement, do not provide for roaming support.
292 The “home network” refers to the network of the subscriber’s CMRS provider, whereas the “serving network”
refers to the network of the roaming partner.
293 CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at 12. The ATIS/TIA J-STD-110 provides additional detail regarding the
routing of SMS texts-to-911.
294 In contrast, a customer who places a voice call to 911 while roaming will have his or her call handled by the
serving network. See TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 16. See supra Section III.B (describing routing of
295 T-Mobile Second Further Notice Comments at 8-9 (footnotes omitted). See also RWA Second Further Notice
Comments at 3; Sprint Second Further Notice Comments at 10; TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 16;
Microsoft Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 6.
296 See TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 16-18; TruePosition Second Further Notice Comments at 9-10;
CCA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 7. These filings suggest that roaming solutions for interim SMS
text-to-911 are feasible.
297 The potential solutions could provide important and substantial public safety benefits to roaming consumers. See
infra Section IV.C, paras. 118-20.
298 RWA Second Further Notice Comments at 3.
299 CCA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 7 (internal footnotes omitted). See also TCS Second Further
Notice Comments at 17-18 (explaining the “hub-and-spoke” approach and suggesting that, under this model, “initial
implementations with operators could start within six months, with full requirements within 18 months”).
Federal Communications Commission
term roaming issues, and on any challenges associated with this approach.300 We also seek comment on
whether this approach could be implemented within two years of the effective date of the adoption of
final roaming rules. TCS claims that initial implementation of this approach could take place within six
months, with full implementation within 18 months.301
We also seek comment on the technical feasibility of other solutions. For example, we
seek comment on the feasibility of modifying the current text-messaging protocol to provide that texts to
911 are handled by the serving network’s TCC when a consumer is roaming.302 Modifying the protocol
would resolve the routing issue and enable the text to be sent to the appropriate PSAP. Sprint argues that
treating text-to-911 as a “local ‘break out’ service” in this manner “would require changes in how SMS
messages are routed and would involve changes to the SMS servers and likely to handsets as well.”303
What changes to handsets are likely to be necessary, and could any such changes be implemented through
an over-the-air software update? What SMS server changes would be necessary, and how quickly could
these changes be implemented? We also seek comment on whether the serving network could either: (1)
automatically include location information embedded in the message, which could then be used by the
home network to route the text to the appropriate PSAP;304 or (2) otherwise communicate and coordinate
location information with the home network through other means, such as by responding to a location
query from the home network to provide the serving cell’s location, rather than the serving cell’s
For each potential solution, we seek detailed and specific information on the potential
technical hurdles associated with each step of the implementation process. We emphasize that we will
not be persuaded by vague or unsupported arguments. We sought comment on supporting roaming for
text-to-911 in our Second Further Notice, and as noted above, we made it clear that roaming is an
important public safety consideration. We therefore reasonably expect that studies regarding support for
text-to-911 while roaming should already be underway, if not completed, and we ask covered text
providers to include detailed information regarding the results of such studies in their comments in this
We also seek comment on the potential costs. We recognize that commenters generally
do not support the adoption of roaming requirements for an interim SMS standard, arguing instead that
we should refrain from such requirements while covered text providers focus their resources on next-
generation networks and applications. 306 We seek comment on whether requiring near-term investments
300 See, e.g., T-Mobile Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 9-10 (describing the difficulties associated with
sharing cell database information and arguing that proposals that “roaming access is a simple matter of carriers
negotiating among themselves or with a third party to share access to information and critical parts of the network”
is “shortsighted and underscore the general lack of understanding of the complexity of these issues”).
301 TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 18.
302 See TruePosition Second Further Notice Comments at 10, Sprint Second Further Notice Comments at 11.
303 Sprint Second Further Notice Comments at 11.
304 This approach would be facilitated by our proposed requirement to include enhanced location with texts-to-911
within a two-year timeframe, discussed above.
305 TruePosition Second Further Notice Comments at 10; Sprint Second Further Notice Comments at 12.
306 For example, T-Mobile asserts that “[g]iven the ongoing transition wireless networks to LTE and the native
support in that standard for more robust text-to-911 features, the Commission should refrain from imposing any
roaming mandates and instead support all stakeholders in their efforts to deploy next-generation networks.” T-
Mobile Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 10 (internal footnote omitted). See also Verizon Second Further
Notice Reply Comments at 9 (“[A]llowing wireless providers to implement roaming and location capabilities
through IP-enabled and standards-based global text telephony (GTT) services, or to leverage commercial LBS
technologies, will help ensure that the Commission’s actions do not hinder the transition to IP-enabled networks and
Federal Communications Commission
to support SMS-based roaming for text-to-911 would delay the deployment of new wireless technologies
that incorporate roaming capability and, if so, by what length of time. We also seek comment on T-
Mobile’s statement that wireless networks are transitioning to LTE, which has “native support . . . for
robust text-to-911 features.”307 Specifically, to what extent do LTE networks support roaming for text-to-
911? In what timeframe could covered text providers support roaming, using an LTE network, on a
We also seek comment on NENA’s proposal that the Commission combine elements of
two different approaches to “achieve the right balance of incentives to ensure that the current lack of
roaming support is timely resolved, while facilitating, and preserving resources for, the IP and NG
transitions.”308 First, the Commission could encourage industry standards work and establish a “medium-
term roaming capability requirement,” tied to the development of necessary standards, for integrated text
origination platforms.309 Second, the Commission could require roaming support for text-to-911 service
“as a precondition to the turn-up of any IP-based replacement for current-generation integrated text
platforms.”310 NENA also proposes that covered text providers may opt out of the medium-term deadline
if they voluntarily commit to transition from their current generation platforms to NG911-compatible
protocols and location mechanisms.311 Specifically, NENA proposes that the Commission “establish a
three-year deadline (December 31st, 2017) for roaming support on existing platforms, extendable to five
years (December 31st, 2019) for carriers who commit to supporting NG-compatible text service on a
network-wide basis by that date.”312 NENA contends that this timeframe “would better align with handset
development cycles, encourage consumer adoption of more advanced handsets capable of leveraging the
new texting platforms, and allow carriers additional time to recoup investments in their existing SMS
platforms, which could continue to exist in parallel with newer platform for some time.”313 We seek
comment on NENA’s proposal, and whether this two-step approach would achieve near-term support for
roaming for text-to-911 while encouraging deployment of next generation wireless networks that provide
automatic location information while roaming. We also seek comment on whether NENA’s proposed
timeframes are reasonable and would encourage investment and standards work for roaming support. In
order to qualify for the opt-out provision, should covered text providers be required to substantiate their
voluntary commitment to transitioning to NG-compatible technology, such as by providing the
Commission with a transition timeline and specific benchmarks that show how they will support roaming
for text-to-911 by the end of 2019? What other factors should we consider in evaluating this approach?
Finally, we seek comment on whether CSRIC should be tasked with investigating
roaming support for delivering texts to 911.314 Several commenters suggest that it would be useful for
CSRIC to examine roaming.315 What specific technical approaches and standards for roaming support
307 T-Mobile Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 10, citing Verizon Second Further Notice Comments at 14.
308 NENA Second Further Notice Comments at 11.
313 Id. at 11-12.
314 In its Enhanced Location Report, CSRIC indicates that it based the scope of its review on services provided
pursuant to the Carrier-APCO-NENA Agreement. Because that agreement excludes the provision of text-to-911
while roaming, CSRIC’s report similarly does not address roaming issues. See CSRIC Enhanced Location Report at
315 See, e.g., Motorola Mobility Second Further Notice Comments at 6 (“to better understand the challenges and
feasibility of providing text-to-911 while roaming, the Commission should consider submitting the issue to the next
iteration of the CSRIC.”); AT&T Second Further Notice Comments at 6 (“[t]he Commission should “work with . . .
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should we task CSRIC with examining? What additional information could we expect from CSRIC that
could not be provided by commenters that could help facilitate our decision-making process?
International Roaming. As we noted in the Second Further Notice, due to the limitations
of the current ATIS/TIA J-STD-110 standard, significant changes to the SMS text platform would be
necessary to handle roaming internationally.316 The comments indicate that international roaming present
unique challenges to implement text-to-911 for consumers roaming on CMRS networks in the United
States.317 Motorola Mobility asserts that international roaming “often involves a distinct set of
technological processes and economic transactions than domestic roaming . . . .”318 Motorola Mobility
suggests that “any roaming requirements . . . should, like the 911 rules as a whole, be limited to
equipment manufactured or imported for sale in the United States.”319 We seek comment on this
suggestion. Also, we seek comment on the role of U.S. standards bodies in coordinating with
international standards organizations. Are U.S. standards bodies working on an international roaming
standard for LTE networks as part of the IP transition? Are ATIS and similar standards groups
addressing international roaming in the context of their standards work on MMES? What would be the
costs for covered text providers, OS providers, and other relevant stakeholders to support of international
roaming for text-to-911 in the U.S.?
Cost-Benefit Analysis for Enhanced Location and Roaming
In the Second Report and Order, we examine the overall benefits compared to the costs
of a requirement for covered text providers to deliver 911 text messages. In assessing the benefits of the
requirement, we stress that a universal capability to send 911 text messages can provide substantial,
quantifiable public safety benefits to the disabilities community and to the public at large.320 In this Third
Further Notice, we seek comment on the public safety benefits and improvements that our proposed
enhanced location information and roaming requirements will provide, compared to the costs of meeting
In particular, we seek comment on the extent to which the improvements proposed herein
would result in tangible benefits with respect to safety of life and property compared to the costs of
providing the best available location that covered text providers could obtain from any available location
technology or technologies. We believe that enhanced location and a nationwide roaming capability will
assist public safety entities in dispatching first responders more expeditiously and directly to the scene of
emergencies, thereby saving lives. We seek quantitative data on this issue.
We acknowledge that quantifying the benefits and burdens for delivering enhanced
location and roaming support for texts to 911 is potentially difficult. However, we anticipate that the
proposed requirements will further contribute to the broad benefits of text messages to 911. We believe
that our proposed requirements will enable public safety entities to better respond to texted requests for
emergency assistance. Moreover, the roaming requirement will expand the benefits of text-to-911 to
more consumers – those traveling beyond their home service area or those who may not realize they are
roaming when their text-capable device is attached to a cell sector of their CMRS provider’s roaming
(Continued from previous page)
its own advisory committee to address the long-term solution to the roaming for Text-to-911” as well as industry
standards setting bodies); CCA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 6 (“Rather than unilaterally imposing
requirements for text-to-911 while roaming, the Commission should instead allow these issues to be investigated by
industry and standards setting bodies—perhaps by the next iteration of CSRIC.”).
316 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1566 ¶ 50 n.99.
317 Motorola Mobility Second Further Notice Comments at 6.
320 See supra Section III.A.1.a.
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partner. We therefore expect the proposed requirements to provide an additional level of benefits beyond
the estimated “benefits floor” of $63.7 million for the text-to-911 requirements adopted by the Second
Report and Order.321 We seek comment on the increased value and benefits for providing more accurate
location information enhanced location and a roaming capability with text messages to 911.
Further, we seek comment on the extent to which the generally recognizable benefits of
the proposed requirements can be quantified with respect to the safety of life and property. In its pending
E911 Location Accuracy proceeding, the Commission analyzed a 2013 study of the Salt Lake City, Utah
area and derived from the study’s relevant data an annual benefit of approximately $92 billion, based on
an estimate that improvements in location accuracy for wireless 911 voice calls could save approximately
10,120 lives annually.322 We seek comment on whether our analysis and underlying assumptions are
relevant to similarly quantifying the benefits of more granular location information and a roaming
capability for text messages to 911.323
We recognize that implementing the proposed location and roaming requirements will
impose costs on covered text providers. We seek detailed information on all of the costs covered text
providers estimate the proposed enhanced location and roaming requirements would impose, including
how these costs were determined. We seek comment on what universal costs would be necessary across
all enhanced location and roaming technologies, as well as on any specific costs that are unique to the
solutions that covered text providers may choose to implement. For instance, if covered text providers
choose to use CMRS-based solutions using the SMS text-to-911 platform to meet the proposed
requirements, we seek quantitative cost data for any possible modifications to the J-STD-110 and for the
SMS text-to-911 platform in the near-term, e.g., the next five years. We also request similarly detailed
and quantitative data on the costs to implement enhanced location and roaming capabilities for LTE or
other IP-based networks. Does the recent and ongoing the implementation of LTE networks result in the
long run in lower overall cost levels, compared to the costs of changes to the SMS text-to-911 platform
and of stranding investment in that current platform?324
We also seek comment regarding the specific costs providers of interconnected text
321 See supra, Sec.III.A.1.a.iv, para. 20 n.65 (explaining that the estimate reflects the Commission’s discounting of
the expected number of lives saved from text-to-911 by roughly half). See also Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at
15688 ¶ 71 n. 177 (for the underlying assumption that “in half the cases the disabled person could rely on a speaking
person to make the 911 call. This is a conservative assumption, because it assumes that a disabled person never
saves a life by using text-to-911 to help a non-disabled cardiac victim.”).
322 See E911 Location Accuracy Third Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd 2374, 2388-89, ¶ 33 & nn.70, 71 (citing Wilde,
Elizabeth Ty, “Do Emergency Medical System Response Times Matter for Health Outcomes?,” 22 Health Econ. 7,
pp. 790-806 (2013), available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22700368 (last accessed July 9, 2014) (Salt
Lake City Study). The study found from 2001 data of 73,706 emergency incidents that a one-minute increase in
response time caused annual mortality to increase 17 percent, i.e., an increase of 746 deaths, from a mean of 4,386
deaths to 5,132 deaths. Because the study’s regression analysis was linear, the Commission inferred from the results
the life-saving impact of reducing the number of deaths by 746 due to a one minute decrease in response time and
sought comment on its analysis. The Commission assumed that, if this outcome is reasonably reflective of the
country as a whole, the proposed location accuracy improvements could save approximately 10,120 statistical lives
annually. See E911 Location Accuracy Third Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 2388-89 n. 71-72 (providing a
discussion of the Commission’s assumptions and additional calculations).
323 For example, assuming, as for the above estimated benefits floor of $63.7 million, that the number of expected
lives saved by text-to-911 would be half of the number of expected lives saved for wireless voice 911 calls, we
estimate an annual benefit of $46 billion provided by 911 text messaging with enhanced location information. We
reach the $46 billion estimate by halving the Commission’s estimate of 10,120 statistical lives saved nationwide,
based on the 2013 Salt Lake Study, and multiplying that number (5,060 statistical lives) by the VSL figure of $9.1
million. See supra Section III.A.1.a.iv, para. 20, n. 65.
324 See, e.g., Motorola Mobility Second Further Notice Comments at 3-4 (cautioning that mandates for
functionalities beyond what J-STD-110 currently provides for “could change cost calculation[s] significantly”).
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messaging applications may incur to resolve the technical complexities in delivering enhanced location
and to meet the proposed roaming requirement. To the extent those costs may vary depending on the
approaches that an interconnected text provider chooses, we seek quantitative cost information on these
different approaches.325 Further, what other potential costs, if any, to interconnected text providers should
the Commission consider? Since many interconnected text providers offer their services at no charge and
they may incur significant costs to implement text-to-911, will interconnected text providers have to
charge for these services, or are there other ways to obtain revenues to cover those costs? Finally, we
seek comment on any additional costs or burdens that covered text providers may incur as a result of our
Future Texting Services
Scope of text-to-911 service and requirements. In this proceeding, we believe that a
forward-looking view of text messaging services, encompassing all text-capable media, is necessary to
ensure continued access to emergency services as covered text providers migrate from legacy 911
networks to an all-IP environment.326 The limitations of SMS-based text-to-911, made clear in the record
and described above, underscore the need for further development of platform architectures and standards
that can deliver enhanced location and support roaming with text-to-911. In the Second Further Notice,
we noted that as the many varieties of text messaging – including OTT text messaging applications –
continue to grow in popularity, we expect consumer habits and expectations to change.327 As new text
messaging platforms are deployed, and to ensure that all consumers can reach 911 by sending a text
message, we seek comment on our ultimate goal that text-to-911 be available on all text-capable media,
regardless of the transmission method (e.g., whether texts are delivered by IP or circuit-switched
There is support in the record for a more expansive scope of our text-to-911
requirements. NASNA contends that the Commission’s rules “should apply to all text applications
capable of texting to 911, regardless of the technology used.”328 NENA emphasizes that, to ensure that
future text users can be located in an emergency, the Commission should clarify that “NG9-1-1 location
determination and transmission obligations will eventually apply to access network providers and text
originating service providers, respectively.”329 Further, comments in response to the Second Further
Notice indicate that consumers’ expectations regarding the availability text-to-911 are likely to increase as
covered text providers implement and offer new text messaging services.330 In further addressing these
325 See supra Section IV.A, paras. 86-90 (concerning enhanced location) and Section IV.B, paras. 110-11
(concerning TCS’s and other possible approaches to support roaming).
326 See Technology Transitions, GN Docket No. 13-5, GN Docket No. 12-353, WC Docket No. 10-90, CG Docket
No. 10-51, CG Docket No. 03-123. WC Docket No. 13-97, Order, Report and Order, and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, Report and Order, Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Proposal for
Ongoing Data Initiative, 29 FCC Rcd 1433 (2014).
327 Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1566 ¶ 64.
328 NASNA Second Further Notice Comments at 9. See also BRETSA Second Further Notice Comments at 7
(urging the Commission to “establish 9-1-1 compatibility as a design criteria—not just for texting technologies—but
for any communications service to be authorized by Commission Rules, or to be provided over a Commission-
licensed service”); NENA Second Further Notice Comments at 15 (“Over the long term, all text messaging
applications should support Text-to-9-1-1.”).
329 NENA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 6.
330 See Second Further Notice, 29 FCC Rcd at 1570 ¶ 64 (observing the growth in popularity of text messaging
applications and seeking comment on consumer expectations as “the functionality of these applications” changes).
See BRETSA Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 2 (“As use of services or applications for communications
become more common, consumers are more likely to expect that those services will enable them to communicate
with 9-1-1.”); TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 20-21 (stating that a “consumer has expectations that his
communication services” will have access to “the public safety infrastructure” when “such access is critical, and
Federal Communications Commission
issues, we seek comment below on the following matters: (1) 911 text messages delivered over Wi-Fi and
non-CMRS networks; (2) non-interconnected text applications; (3) rich media services, including texts,
video, photos, and the like; (4) real-time text communications; and (5) telematics and potentially
additional public safety services.
Location Information for Wi-Fi Enabled Devices. In the above Second Report and
Order, we exclude 911 text messages that come from Wi-Fi only locations from the scope of the
requirements at this time.331 In view of the record and recent trends suggesting the growth in the use of
Wi-Fi generally,332 we believe that the public interest warrants further exploration of the feasibility of
sending 911 text messages over non-CMRS networks. For instance, CMRS providers migrating to 4G
LTE networks have network traffic and engineering incentives to off-load their subscriber traffic on to
Wi-Fi networks that are connected to wired broadband connections, such as those provided by cable or
telephone companies. The Commission’s Sixteenth Mobile Wireless Competition Report observed that
the large demand for wireless data by mobile users at public locations has been inducing CMRS providers
to reduce congestion on their mobile wireless networks,333 and that the forecast for total mobile data
traffic offload from CMRS mobile wireless networks to wireless local area networks (WLANs),334 which
primarily use Wi-Fi technology will increase from 11 percent (72 petabytes/month) in 2011 to 22 percent
(3.1 exabytes/month) in 2016.335
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“[c]onsumers expect that both direct and indirect text messaging services will have the ability to connect to text-
capable telephone numbers.”); Heywire Second Further Notice Comments at 9 (with different text messaging
applications, “the average person will not understand why Text-to-911 works for some applications and not others”).
See generally NASNA Second Further Notice Comments at 10 (implying that consumer expectations may increase
but suggested that a consumer survey be conducted). But see Twilio Second Further Notice Comments at 12
(asserting that consumers are less likely to expect to use non-interconnected OTT text messaging applications,
which “do not replace native texting or calling applications,” to reach emergency service).
331 See supra Section III.A.2.a, para. 35 n. 96.
332 See textPlus Comments at 2 (stating that “approximately 85% of the time textPlus users connect to the Internet
via Wi-Fi” and that “a small minority of users access the textPlus app via a traditional CMRS 3G, 4G or LTE data
network when outside of a known or public Wi-Fi zone”). See also Sixteenth Report, 28 FCC Rcd at 3933 ¶ 373
(reporting that “an estimated 40 percent of mobile wireless usage occurring in the home [is data usage],” and that
there is a “large demand for wireless data by mobile users sojourning at public locations”), citing W. Gerhardt and
R. Medcalf, “Femtocells: Implementing a Better Business Model to Increase SP Profitability,” Cisco (Mar. 2010).
333 Sixteenth Report, 28 FCC Rcd at 3933 ¶ 373 (describing the increased demand in data traffic as giving
“incentives for service providers to find means, potentially intermodal, to reduce congestion on their mobile wireless
334 Sixteenth Report, 28 FCC Rcd at 3934, ¶¶ 375-76 (describing WLANs “as operating on an unlicensed basis and
provide high-speed (fixed) wireless Internet connections within a range of 150 to 250 feet from a wireless access
point”). Manufactured in accordance with the IEEE 802.11, Wi-Fi equipment to access the internet includes various
devices, e.g., wireless handsets, notebook and netbook computers, tablets, portable electronic games, media players,
e-readers, televisions, and cameras. See id. Accessed through telecommunication cables or cellular networks,
WLAN networks are “deployed by mobile wireless companies, cable companies, businesses, universities,
municipalities, households and other institutions.” See id. at ¶ 377. Another small and local wireless network
technology uses CMRS-licensed spectrum by deploying femtocells, picocells, metrocells, and microcells, A small
cell is a small, low-power wireless base station that functions like a cell in a mobile wireless network and provides
“improved cellular coverage, capacity and applications for homes and enterprises as well as metropolitan and rural
public spaces.” See id. at 3934 ¶ 375; 3937-38 ¶ 384.
335 See Sixteenth Report, 28 FCC Rcd at 3936 ¶ 380, citing Cisco white paper, “Cisco Visual Networking Index:
Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2011–2016” (Feb. 5, 2014), at 12, available at
(last accessed July 1, 2014). See also 4G Americas, “Mobile Broadband Explosion, The 3GPP Wireless Evolution”
(2012), at 11-12 (Wi-Fi networks provide a means for: (1) “offloading heavy traffic” from LTE networks “as the
number of Wi-Fi hotspots increases”; (2) “add[ing] capacity” by using unlicensed spectrum; and (3) achieving “high
Federal Communications Commission
We seek comment on the feasibility of sending text messages to 911 via Wi-Fi networks
and on the ability of covered text providers to route those texts to the proper PSAP and provide granular
location data. Public safety commenters support moving ahead on evaluating location solutions that
could route text-to-911 messages using Wi-Fi networks only.336 NENA suggests that the Commission’s
medium- to long-term focus on text-to-911 should take a general approach that would address “emerging
technologies such as WiFi positioning.”337
The record includes contrasting views. For example, Heywire submits that the technical
issues will require “substantial development” to address matters ranging from “the mobile devices
themselves” to the “validity of the identification” of individuals who use text-to-911 on Wi-Fi only
devices.338 Similarly, VON Coalition contends that “[i]n a Wi-Fi-only environment there is a lack of
reliable location information and no reliable way for the text to be routed.”339
In contrast, TCS submits
that “[a]dvances in the user plane protocol enable” location techniques, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth,
that are not dependent on the macro cellular network.340 Also, Bandwidth describes two options for
location capability with text-to-911 through Wi-Fi service: (1) “platform-derived location options,”
querying a database of Wi-Fi hotspots, and knowing the Wi-Fi router locations;341 and (2) “off-platform
services,” available to application developers … that use hybrid positioning technology to determine a
consumer’s location.342 We seek comment on the approaches suggested by TCS and Bandwidth, as well
as any other potential solutions.
(Continued from previous page)
frequency re-use”), available at
0121.pdf (last accessed June 27, 2014).
336 BRETSA contends that “any CMRS or WiFi/Internet capable communications device should be required to
include location and text-messaging functionality.” BRETSA Second Further Notice Comments at 22 (“This
requirement should apply regardless of whether the text messaging application is an SMS text messaging
application.”). BRETSA adds that this requirement should apply whether the connections are over the CMRS
network to the PSTN or over “the publicly accessible Internet.” BRETSA Second Further Notice Comments at 27.
Also, BRETSA asserts that, in the “transition to LTE-IMS, wireless systems will provide emulated SMS messaging
over a data channel rather than true SMS messaging over a control channel,” resulting in the loss of additional
coverage area. See id. at 40. We seek comment on how the deployment of LTE networks by CMRS providers will
affect their text messaging coverage areas.
337 NENA Second Further Notice Comments at 9.
338 Heywire Second Further Notice Comments at 2.
339 VON Coalition Second Further Notice Comments at 5 (explaining that “[e]ven when [Wi-Fi] services are
enabled, they may not function” due to a weak signal, or “lack of resolution or accuracy” that would be useful to a
PSAP). VON Coalition also submits that, “for privacy reasons,” consumers may opt to disable the GPS or other
location capability” on their Wi-Fi enabled devices. Id. (adding that consumers may also disable the location
capability to extend battery life).
340 TCS Second Further Notice Comments at 15 (suggesting that the Open Mobile Alliance’s (OMA) secure user
plane protocol enables Phase II location either “via interworking” or “completely off network” and that the Indoor
Location Alliance is evaluating “non-cellular-based location techniques”).
341 Bandwidth Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 10 (adding that “Apple operates such a database for use
by platforms it supports and makes this platform-derived location information available to all hosted applications”).
342 Bandwidth Second Further Notice Reply Comments at 10-11 (describing hybrid positioning as incorporating Wi-
Fi, GPS, cell towers, IP address and device sensor information). Bandwidth states that Skyhook Wireless “provides
a software developer’s toolkit that enables any application to determine its location.” Id. at 10. Also, Bandwidth
notes that Skyhook’s location determination is “only 1 second in most cases,” citing Liljegren, R., et al,
“Performance Evaluation of the Skyhook Wireless Positioning System,” IT University of Copenhagen (Fall 2010),
available at https://blog.itu.dk/SPVC-E2010/files/2011/08/11skyhookperformace.pdf (last accessed July 24, 2014).