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Text-to-911 Order on Reconsideration

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Released: September 30, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-127

Before the

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

ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

Adopted: September 27, 2013

Released: September 30, 2013

By the Commission:
1.
In this Order on Reconsideration, in response to a petition filed by CTIA The Wireless
Association (CTIA),1 we amend the Commission's text-to-911 "bounce-back" requirement as it applies to
Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers when consumers are roaming. In the May 2013
Bounce-Back Order, the Commission required all CMRS providers and providers of interconnected text
messaging services to provide an automatic "bounce-back" text message in situations where a consumer
attempts to send a text message to 911 in a location where text-to-911 is not available.2 As discussed
below, we amend the rule to specify that when a consumer attempts to send a text to 911 while roaming
on a CMRS network, the CMRS provider offering roaming service (host provider) satisfies its bounce-
back obligation provided that it does not impede the consumer's text to the consumer's home network
provider (home provider) or impede any bounce-back message generated by the home provider back to
the consumer.

I.

BACKGROUND

2.
Bounce-Back Order. In the Bounce-Back Order, the Commission required "all CMRS
providers to provide an automatic bounce-back message when a consumer roaming on a network initiates
a text-to-911 in an area where text-to-911 service is not available."3 Given the important public safety
implications of the bounce-back requirement, the Commission stated that "carriers should make automatic
bounce-back messages available to consumers roaming on their network to the same extent they provide
such messages to their own subscribers."4 Accordingly, the bounce-back rule in Section 20.18(n) of the
Commission's rules contains a specific subsection relating to roaming. Section 20.18(n)(7) currently
provides that: "A CMRS provider subject to 20.12 shall provide an automatic bounce-back message to
any consumer roaming on its network who sends a text message to 911 when (i) the consumer is located

1 Petition for Reconsideration, or in the Alternative, for Clarification of CTIA The Wireless Association, PS
Docket Nos. 11-153 and 10-255 (filed June 28, 2013) (Petition).
2 Facilitating the Development of Text-to-911 and Other Next Generation 911 Applications; Framework for Next
Generation 911 Deployment, PS Docket Nos. 11-153 and 10-255, Report and Order, 28 FCC Rcd 7556 (rel. May
17, 2013) (Bounce-Back Order). We also required covered providers to provide automatic bounce-backs when the
consumer is located in an area where the covered text provider does not support text-to-911 service at the time.
3 Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7582 72.
4 Id.

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in an area where text-to-911 service is unavailable, or (ii) the CMRS provider does not support text-to-
911 service at the time."5
3.
CTIA Petition. On June 28, 2013, CTIA filed a petition for reconsideration, or in the
alternative, for clarification, of the roaming provision of the Bounce-Back Order. CTIA's core concern is
that in a situation where a wireless consumer attempts to send a text to 911 while roaming on a CMRS
provider's network, Section 20.18(n)(7) could be read to impose an obligation on the host provider to
originate a bounce-back message, which CTIA contends is technically infeasible for the host provider.
CTIA claims that in current network architecture for Short Message Service (SMS) texting, only the
consumer's home provider has the technical ability to initiate a bounce-back message when the consumer
is roaming on another network.6 CTIA also contends that Section 20.18(n)(7) was adopted "with minimal
discussion of the rule's practicality or technical feasibility."7 CTIA therefore requests that the
Commission either eliminate Section 20.18(n)(7) or, in the alternative, clarify that Section 20.18(n)(7)
"applies only to home network operators."8 CTIA further suggests that the clarification could be
accomplished by deleting Section 20.18(n)(7) and adding language to Section 20.18(n)(3), which
specifies the circumstances under which a covered text provider must provide an automatic bounce-back
message, to state that the bounce-back requirement applies where the consumer is roaming on the network
of another CMRS provider.9 CTIA states that "the relief it requests will not prevent wireless subscribers
who are roaming from receiving a bounce-back message" but merely seeks to "allocate carrier
responsibilities in a way that aligns with technical realities."10
4.
Responsive Pleadings. On July 11, 2013, the Commission released a Public Notice
seeking comment on the Petition.11 Several parties filed in support of the CTIA petition. AT&T supports
the Commission "clarifying that, while covered text providers must send a bounce-back message alerting
end users that text-to-911 is unavailable, it is the Home Carrier (and not the Host Carrier) that is
responsible for sending that bounce-back message when the end user is texting while roaming on another
carrier's network." 12 T-Mobile similarly contends that, in a roaming scenario, the host provider will
automatically pass an attempted text to 911 to the consumer's home provider, which will then generate a
bounce-back message that will be delivered, via the roaming network, to the consumer.13 Changes to this
architecture, T-Mobile argues, are "simply not feasible."14 T-Mobile opines that "the Commission did not
intend to create a mandate for serving carriers in Section 20.18(n)(7) but rather intended to ensure that
serving carriers do not prevent home carriers from generating bounce-back messages for their roaming

5 47 C.F.R. 20.18(n)(7).
6 Petition at 7.
7 Id. at 3.
8 Id. at 6.
9 Id. at 7.
10 Id. at 3.
11 Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 and Other Next Generation 911Applications; Framework for Next
Generation 911 Deployment, Petition for Reconsideration of Action in Rulemaking Proceeding, PS Docket 11-153,
PS Docket 10-255, Report. No. 2985, 78 FR 46310 (rel. Jul. 11, 2013); see also Public Safety and Homeland
Security Bureau Announces Opposition and Reply Dates for Petition for Reconsideration Filed by CTIA, Public
Notice
, DA 13-1680 (July 31, 2013).
12 AT&T Comments at 2 (footnote omitted).
13 T-Mobile USA Comments at 5.
14 Id.
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subscribers."15 Therefore, T-Mobile urges the Commission to "either issue an erratum correcting the rule
or clarify that Section 20.18(n)(7) does not apply to serving [i.e., roaming] carriers."16
5.
Two other commenting parties, Blooston Rural Carriers (Blooston) and NCTA, support
not requiring host providers to provide a bounce-back message to a roaming consumer at this time, based
on current technical considerations. Blooston agrees with CTIA that origination of a bounce-back
message by a roaming provider is technically infeasible.17 Blooston further argues that the Commission
should not require home providers to originate a bounce-back message in this scenario because the home
provider cannot determine the location of the consumer on the host provider's network, and therefore
cannot determine whether the PSAP serving the consumer's location supports text-to-911.18 Thus,
Blooston argues that the bounce-back rule should not apply to consumers while roaming until a
technological solution can be worked out by industry standard-setting bodies that would enable the home
provider to determine the consumer's location on the host provider's network.19 NCTA similarly argues
that implementation of the roaming portion of the bounce-back rule should be delayed until a technical
solution is developed by standards-setting bodies and implemented.20
6.
APCO filed an opposition to the Petition, arguing that CTIA has failed to demonstrate
that complying with the Commission's rule is not technically feasible.21 APCO objects that CTIA's
proposal would result in all roaming customers receiving a bounce-back message even in situations where
the roaming consumer is located in an area where the local PSAP accepts text-to-911. APCO contends
that if a roaming consumer is in an area where the PSAP supports text-to-911, the home and host
providers should be required to deliver the consumer's text to the PSAP rather than sending a bounce-
back message.22 APCO argues that delivery of a text-to-911 from a roaming customer to the PSAP
serving the customer's area is technically feasible under existing standards.23 In reply, CTIA disputes
APCO's contention that a technical solution exists to support routing of 911 texts from roaming
customers to PSAPs.24 CTIA also argues that the issues APCO raises regarding the feasibility of text-to-
9-1-1 while roaming "are directed at the second part of the NPRM, which is still pending before the
Commission."25

15 Id. at 7.
16 Id.
17 Blooston Comments at 2.
18 Blooston Comments at 6.
19 Id.
20 NCTA Comments at 2.
21 See Opposition of APCO International to Petition for Reconsideration, PS Docket Nos. 11-153 and 10-255 (filed
Aug. 15, 2013) (APCO Opposition).
22 APCO Opposition at 3.
23 Id. at 3. APCO contends that if text-to-911 is implemented under the Joint ATIS/TIA Native SMS to 9-1-1
Standard, the Text Control Center (TCC) is capable of identifying the correct PSAP and sending that information to
both the home and host providers. Id.
24 See Reply of CTIA to APCO Opposition, PS Docket Nos. 11-153 and 10-255 (filed Aug. 27, 2013), at 5-6 (CTIA
Reply).
25 Id. at 3.
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7.
In an ex parte filing, NENA states that it does not oppose CTIA's petition.26 While
NENA supports implementation of a "ubiquitous" text-to-911 solution that works "regardless of whether
the subscriber is attached to a home or a roaming network," it agrees that CTIA's position with respect to
the "limited question of which party should be responsible for delivering a bounce-back message" in a
roaming scenario is consistent with current technology and the understanding reached by NENA, APCO,
and the four major wireless carriers in their December 2012 voluntary text-to-911 agreement.27 CTIA
also provides further clarification in an ex parte filing, noting the technical infeasibility of a host network
provider to "`transmit' the text-to-911 of a consumer roaming on the host network to the covered text
provider home network and the home network's responding `bounce[-]back' message due to the store-
and-forward nature of CMRS provided SMS services."28 CTIA also notes that "a covered home network
text provider's obligation to provide any bounce back message should account for whether the home
network operates `in the area' that a consumer initiates the text-to-911, and not only whether the covered
home network text provider supports text-to-911 services at that time."29

II.

DISCUSSION

8.
In the Bounce-Back Order, the Commission sought to ensure that the carrier with direct
control of a consumer's attempted text message to 911 would be responsible for delivering the bounce-
back message in circumstances where text-to-911 is unavailable.30 We are persuaded by the technical
representations made in the record that under the current technical standard developed for SMS-based
texting to 911, the home provider alone has control over sending a consumer a required bounce-back
message. 31 Current network architecture is such that, when a roaming consumer sends an SMS message,
that message is routed first to the home provider, which has control over the further routing of that SMS
message to its intended recipient. It is therefore the home provider that has direct control over the
delivery of the SMS message to its intended recipient. Thus, we agree with CTIA that based on current
network architecture, it would be technically challenging for a host provider to originate a bounce-back
message to a roaming consumer.
9.
Accordingly, we amend Section 20.18(n)(7) to reflect that the host provider must not
impede the consumer's text message to 911 to the consumer's home provider and/or any bounce-back

26 See Letter from Telford E. Forgety, III, Director of Government Affairs and Regulatory Counsel, NENA, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed
Aug. 21, 2013).
27 Id. at 1 (stating that "the roaming limitations of existing SMS systems were understood by the parties to the
agreement NENA negotiated with the four largest wireless carriers and APCO," as well as by other stakeholders
who are in the process of developing text-to-911 capabilities.).
28 See Letter from Brian M. Josef, III, Assistant Vice President Regulatory, CTIA The Wireless Association, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 (filed
Sept. 26, 2013) (citing Emergency Access Advisory Committee, Report of Emergency Access Advisory Committee
(EAAC) Subcommittee 1 on Interim Text Messaging to 9-1-1 (March 1, 2013)).
29 Id.
30 See Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7573 52; see also Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 & Other
Next Generation 911 Applications; Framework for Next Generation 911 Deployment, Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking,
27 FCC Rcd 15659, 15670 at 32 (2012) (FNPRM) (clarifying that the "proposed requirement for
automatic notification to consumers would only apply to situations where the provider (or the provider's text-to-911
vendor) has direct control over the transmission of the text message and is unable to transmit the text message to the
PSAP serving the texting party's location...").
31 See, e.g., AT&T Comments at 3, 5 at n. 7; Blooston Comments at 3, citing CTIA Petition at 5; CCA Comments at
2; CTIA Reply at 3-4; and T-Mobile Comments at 4. The Joint ATIS/TIA Standard specifically refrains from
discussing roaming. See Joint ATIS/TIA Native SMS to 9-1-1 Requirements and Architecture Specification, 4
(working document) ("Roaming is not addressed in this version of this Standard.").
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message generated by the home provider back to the consumer. The host provider is not under any
obligation to originate a bounce-back message to the consumer or otherwise ensure that the home
provider generates a bounce-back message in response to the consumer's text to 911. As amended,
Section 20.18(n)(7) provides:
Notwithstanding any other provisions in this section, when a consumer is roaming on a
covered text provider's host network pursuant to 20.12, the covered text provider
operating the consumer's home network shall have the obligation to originate an
automatic bounce-back message to such consumer when (a) the consumer is located in an
area where text-to-911 service is unavailable, or (b) the home provider does not support
text-to-911 service in that area at the time. The host provider shall not impede the
consumer's 911 text message to the home provider and/or any automatic bounce-back
message originated by the home provider to the consumer roaming on the host network.
10.
As revised, Section 20.18(n)(7) specifies that a host provider shall not impede the text
message to 911 of a consumer roaming on its network and/or impede any bounce-back message
originated by the home provider to that roaming consumer. It is the home provider's responsibility to
generate the bounce-back message. This apportionment of responsibility between the roaming and home
providers assures that consumers receive potentially lifesaving bounce-back messages, while taking into
account the technical realities of current network architecture. The revised language also accounts for
whether the home provider is supporting text-to-911 in the area where the consumer initiates a text
message to 911.
11.
We deny CTIA's petition to the extent it seeks elimination of Section 20.18(n)(7) of the
bounce-back rule. In light of our amendment of the rule, we find that compliance with the rule is
technically feasible and does not raise the concerns referenced in CTIA's petition. We find that there was
adequate notice to adopt the rule and that, as amended, the rule is consistent with the record in the
underlying proceeding.32 We do not agree with Blooston that we should eliminate the roaming portion of
the bounce-back rule in its entirety or otherwise defer implementation of the rule. The bounce-back
requirement addresses an important public safety interest in providing consumers immediate notification
of non-delivery of their text to the PSAP. To eliminate bounce-back messaging in roaming situations
would risk leaving roaming consumers without information as to whether their text reached the
appropriate PSAP, potentially endangering them by preventing or delaying their attempt to reach 911
through another means. Our amendment of the rule provides for a technically and economically feasible
apportionment of responsibilities for roaming and home providers, while preserving the important public
safety interests of the original rule.
12.
With respect to APCO's argument that host providers should be able to route consumer
texts to 911 to the appropriate PSAP,33 we note that the questions APCO raises about the technical
feasibility of requiring host providers to route texts to 911 are part of the broader and still-pending portion
of the Commission's rulemaking proceeding.34 Therefore, we do not address these issues in this order,
but reserve them for consideration in the next phase of the proceeding. Today's order is limited in scope
to the limited issue of how responsibility is apportioned for delivering bounce-back messages to
consumers when those consumers are roaming.35

32 See, e.g. Bounce-Back Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7567 32 (discussing support in record that it is technically feasible
for CMRS providers to provide automatic bounce-back notifications).
33 APCO Opposition at 3.
34 See FNPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 5707-08 ( 124-126).
35 We note that although the Commission has proposed to require the transmission of texts to PSAPs that request
them, this proposal is still under consideration. Further, the specific mechanism by which a carrier would transmit
(continued....)
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13.
Finally, in order to effectuate the modifications described herein, we waive Section
20.18(n)(7) on our own motion, pending the effective date of the amended rule. In light of the potential
technical difficulties associated with complying with Section 20.18(n)(7) as originally drafted, we
conclude there is good cause to waive application of this portion of the bounce-back rule until the
effective date of the amendments adopted in this order.36 The remainder of Section 20.18(n), which was
published in the Federal Register and took effect on June 28, 2013, remains in full force and effect.37
Accordingly, except as provided in this order, covered text providers must begin providing bounce-back
messages in accordance with the rule no later than September 30, 2013. In addition, as discussed below,
we determine that amended version of Section 20.18(n)(7) will take effect on publication in the Federal
Register. Therefore, covered text providers must begin complying with Section 20.18(n)(7) as of that
date.

III.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A.

Effective Date

14.
We conclude that good cause exists to make the effective date of the modifications
adopted in this Order on Reconsideration effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register,
pursuant to section 553(d)(3) of the Administrative Procedure Act.38 Agencies determining whether there
is good cause to make a rule revision take effect less than 30 days after Federal Register publication must
balance the necessity for immediate implementation against principles of fundamental fairness that
require that all affected persons be afforded a reasonable time to prepare for the effective date of a new
rule.39 Given the public safety need for bounce-back messaging and the relative lack of any additional
burden imposed by this Order on Reconsideration, there is good cause to make these amendments
effective immediately upon Federal Register publication. Indeed, given that covered text providers must
begin generating automatic bounce-back messages outside of the roaming context beginning no later than
September 30, 2013, and given that no party has argued that the modifications to the 20.18(n)(7)
requirement raised by the CTIA Petition would require additional time to comply with, we find that good
cause exists to make the modifications to 20.18(n)(7) effective immediately upon their publication in the
Federal Register.

B.

Paperwork Reduction Act

15.
This document does not contain new or modified information collection requirements
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA).40 Therefore the Order on Reconsideration does
not contain any new or modified information collection burdens for small businesses with fewer than 25
employees, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002.41
(Continued from previous page)
texts to 911 is not yet established. Whether to adopt text-to-911 requirements, and whether such requirements
should apply to roaming, are issues under consideration in the text-to-911 rulemaking proceeding.
36 See 47 CFR 1.3 (authorizing the Commission to waive the rules on its own motion if good cause is shown).
37 Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 and Other Next Generation 911 Applications, Final Rule, 78 FR
32169 (May 29, 2013).
38 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).
39 Omnipoint Corporation v. FCC, 78 F.3d 620, 630 (D.C. Cir. 1996), citing United States v. Gavrilovic, 551 F.2d
1099, 1105 (8th Cir. 1977).
40 Pub. L. No. 104-13; 44 U.S.C. Part 35.
41 Pub. L. No. 107-198; see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).
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C.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

16.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)42 requires that agencies prepare a regulatory
flexibility analysis for notice-and-comment rulemaking proceedings, unless the agency certifies that "the
rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities."43 The RFA
defines "small entity" as having the same meaning as the terms "small business," "small organization,"
and "small governmental jurisdiction."44 In addition, the term "small business" has the same meaning as
the term "small business concern" under the Small Business Act.45 A small business concern is one
which: (1) is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3)
satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA).46
17.
We hereby certify that this Order on Reconsideration will not have a significant
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The Commission will send a copy of this
Order on Reconsideration, including this certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small
Business Administration.47 In addition, the Order on Reconsideration (or a summary thereof) and
certification will be published in the Federal Register.48

D.

Congressional Review Act

18.
The Commission will send a copy of this Order on Reconsideration to Congress and the
Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.49

E.

Accessible Formats

19.
Accessible formats of this Order on Reconsideration (Braille, large print, electronic files,
audio format) are available to persons with disabilities by sending an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or by
calling the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice) 202-418-0432 (TTY).
This Order on Reconsideration can also be downloaded at http://www.fcc.gov.

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSE

20.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), 301, 303(b), 303(f), 303(g),
303(r), 307, 316, 319, 324, 332, 333, 405, 615a, 615a-1, and 615b of the Communications Act of 1934, as
amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 301, 303(b), 303(f), 303(g), 303(r), 307, 316, 319, 324, 332, 333,
405(a), 615a, 615a-1, and 615b, and Sections 1.2 and 1.429(a) of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R.
1.2, 1.429(a), that Petition for Reconsideration, or in the Alternative, for Clarification filed by CTIA the
Wireless Association, PS Docket Nos. 11-153 and 10-255 on June 28, 2013 IS GRANTED to the extent
provided herein and otherwise DENIED.

42 See 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. The RFA has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness
Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857.
43 5 U.S.C. 605(b).
44 5 U.S.C. 601(6)
45 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of "small business concern" in Small Business Act,
15 U.S.C. 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(1), the statutory definition of a small business applies "unless an
agency, after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity
for public comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the
agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register."
46 Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 632.
47 Id.
48 Id.
49 See 5 U.S.C. 801 (a)(1)(A).
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21.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the modifications to 47 C.F.R. 20.18(n)(7) specified
in this Order on Reconsideration SHALL BE EFFECTIVE immediately upon publication in the Federal
Register.
22.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Sections 1.3, 1.4, 1.103, and 1.427 of the
Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.3, 1.4, 1.103, and 1.427, the requirements of 47 CFR 20.18(n)(7)
are WAIVED to the extent and for the time period specified herein.
23.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Sections 1.3, 1.4, 1.103, and 1.427 of the
Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.3, 1.4, 1.103, and 1.427, the waiver of 47 CFR 20.18(n)(7)
specified herein is EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY UPON RELEASE of this Order on Reconsideration.
24.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission SHALL SEND a copy of the Order on
Reconsideration to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional
Review Act.50
25.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Order on Reconsideration to
the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary

50 See 5 U.S.C. 801 (a)(1)(A).
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APPENDIX

Final Rules

Part 20 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

PART 20 COMMERCIAL MOBILE SERVICES

Section 20.18(n)(7) is amended to read:
*
*
*
*
*
(n) Text-to-911 Requirements.
*
*
*
*
*
(7) Notwithstanding any other provisions in this section, when a consumer is roaming on a covered text
provider's host network pursuant to 20.12, the covered text provider operating the consumer's home
network shall have the obligation to originate an automatic bounce-back message to such consumer when
(a) the consumer is located in an area where text-to-911 service is unavailable, or (b) the home provider
does not support text-to-911 service in that area at the time. The host provider shall not impede the
consumer's 911 text message to the home provider and/or any automatic bounce-back message originated
by the home provider to the consumer roaming on the host network.
*
*
*
*
*
9

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