On January 30, 2014, the Commission adopted a Policy Statement and 2nd FNPRM stating the goal that all wireless telephone companies and providers of interconnected text messaging services should enable consumers to send text messages to 911. The Commission encouraged industry-developed solutions to achieve this goal, and proposed rules that would require all covered text providers to support text-to-911 by December 31, 2014.
In an agreement with NENA and APCO, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have voluntarily committed to provide text-to-911 service by May 15, 2014 in all areas served by their networks where a 911 call center is prepared to receive texts.
The Commission encourages wireless providers and interconnected text providers that are not parties to the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement to work with the public safety community to develop similar commitments to support text-to-911 in a timely manner, so that all consumers will be assured access to text-to-911 regardless of what text provider they choose. The Commission has also proposed rules that would require all covered text providers to support text-to-911 by December 31, 2014.
Best Practices and Resources for PSAPs’ Implementation of Text-to-911
The Commission has encouraged 911 call centers to begin accepting texts as text providers develop text-to-911 capability. It is up to each 911 call center and their governing bodies to decide whether and when to begin accepting texts. Some call centers have started to accept text messages already. We expect that others will do so and that text-to-911 will become available in more areas over time.
The Commission recognizes that PSAPs have a range of options to consider in implementing text-to-911 processing in the call center. The Commission has proposed a set of near-term solutions that would allow non-NG 911 capable PSAPs to handle text messages without requiring significant up-front investments or upgrades, including the use of web browsers, gateway centers, conversion of text messages to TTY calls, and state or regional aggregation of text-to-911 processing.
A number of resources are available for PSAPs considering implementing text-to-911.
NENA has prepared a consideration document that includes a list of topics or questions that PSAPs should consider when deciding to accept texts. It has also prepared Frequently Asked Questions document to provide additional information to 911 authorities and PSAPs in the decision-making process to on when and how to accept text to 911.
APCO has prepared a White Paper Text Messages in a PSAP Environment, which provides an overview of the technology currently in use to facilitate text messages into a PSAP environment. In addition, APCO’s Technology Forum has featured overviews of the technology options available to PSAPs to implement text-to-911, including Text-to-9-1-1 . . . Know Your Options
A number of PSAPs have implemented text-to-911 and can provide insight and expertise to other PSAPs considering implementing the service.
State of Vermont Enhanced 9-1-1 Board filed an ex parte, in which it offered a number of “lessons learned” since it implemented text-to-911 in 2012. Vermont has prepared several videos directed at certain groups that might be expected to use text-to-911. The videos can be viewed at Vermont911.
When the North Central Texas Conference of Governments introduced text-to-911, it released a video to provide the public with guidance on how best and when to use text-to-911.
- FCC Guide: What You Need to Know About Text-to-911