Text-to-911 is the ability to send a text message to reach 911 emergency call takers from your mobile phone or device.
In the future, text-to-911 may be widely available in the United States. However, for now, the ability to contact 911 using text is only available on a limited basis in a few markets. For this reason, you should not rely on text to reach 911.
How to Contact 911
IMPORTANT! If you use a wireless phone or other type of mobile device, make sure to do the following in an emergency:
- Always contact 911 by making a voice call, if you can.
- If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability, use a TTY or a telecommunications relay service, if possible.
- Remember - in most cases now, you cannot reach 911 by sending a text message.
The FCC has rules to help keep consumers safe during the transition to text-to-911. These rules are intended to minimize the risk if consumers attempt to send text messages to 911 where the service is not available. Specifically, beginning September 30, 2013, all wireless telephone companies and certain other text messaging providers are required by the FCC to send an automatic "bounce-back" message to any consumer who tries to send a text message to 911 where this service is not yet available.
- Consumers who receive this "bounce-back" message will be advised to contact emergency services by another means, such as by making a voice call or using a telecommunications relay service (the latter for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability).
- The nation's four largest wireless telephone companies – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon – have agreed to voluntarily begin sending these "bounce back" text messages across their networks as of June 30, 2013, a few months earlier than the September 2013 deadline established by the FCC's rules.
When Will Text-to-911 Become Widely Available?
- 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.
- To speed up the nationwide availability of text-to-911, the FCC has also proposed rules for public comment that would require all other wireless telephone companies and certain providers of text messaging applications to likewise provide text-to-911 by May 15, 2014 in all areas where a 911 call center is prepared to receive the texts.
- Text-to-911 deployment will therefore happen gradually, depending in part on when local 911 call centers prepare their systems to receive texts.
Wireless Companies' Voluntary Commitment to Accelerate Text-to-911 Services
- Press Release: Agreement Between National Wireless Carriers and Public Safety Organizations to Accelerate Nationwide Deployment of Text-to-911
- Commitment Letter
- Quarterly progress reports
More Related Documents
- The Commission's Order (adopted May 8, 2013) on "bounce-back" messages is available at http://www.fcc.gov/document/text-911-bounce-back-message-order.
- The Commission's other current proposals regarding text-to-911 are in a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC Docket 12-149), available at http://www.fcc.gov/document/text-911-further-notice-proposed-rulemaking.
More About Text-to-911
For More Information
To learn more about FCC programs to promote access to telecommunications services for people with disabilities, visit the FCC's Disability Rights Office website.
For information about other telecommunications issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer website, or contact the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Text-to-911 Guide (pdf)
Please bookmark this web page for future updates.Updated: October 29, 2013