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Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 and Other NG 911 Apps

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Released: May 12, 2014
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
‘ May 12, 2014

DA 14-638

Small Entity Compliance Guide

Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 and Other Next

Generation 911 Applications; Framework for Next Generation

911 Deployment
Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration
FCC 13-64 and 13-127
PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153
Report and Order Released: May 17, 2013
Order on Reconsideration Released: September 30, 2013

This Guide is prepared in accordance with the requirements of Section 212 of the
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. It is intended to
help small entities—small businesses, small organizations (non-profits), and
small governmental jurisdictions—comply with the new rules adopted in the
above-referenced FCC rulemaking docket(s). This Guide is not intended to
replace the rules and, therefore, final authority rests solely with the rules.
Although we have attempted to cover all parts of the rules that might be
especially important to small entities, the coverage may not be exhaustive. This
Guide may, perhaps, not apply in a particular situation based upon the
circumstances, and the FCC retains the discretion to adopt approaches on a case-
by-case basis that may differ from this Guide, where appropriate. Any decisions
regarding a particular small entity will be based on the statute and regulations.

In any civil or administrative action against a small entity for a violation of
rules, the content of the Small Entity Compliance Guide may be considered as
evidence of the reasonableness or appropriateness of proposed fines, penalties or
damages. Interested parties are free to file comments regarding this Guide and
the appropriateness of its application to a particular situation; the FCC will
consider whether the recommendations or interpretations in the Guide are
appropriate in that situation. The FCC may decide to revise this Guide without
public notice to reflect changes in the FCC’s approach to implementing a rule,
or to clarify or update the text of the Guide. Direct your comments and
recommendations, or calls for further assistance, to the FCC’s Consumer

1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)

TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)

Fax: 1-866-418-0232

Background and Objectives of the Proceeding

On December 6, 2012, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon entered into a voluntary
agreement with the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and APCO International (APCO)
in which each of the four commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) carriers agreed to provide text-to-911
service by May 15, 2014 to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) that are capable of receiving and
request to receive text-to-911 service.1 In this agreement, the major carriers also committed to providing a
bounce-back message to alert their subscribers attempting to text an emergency message to instead dial
911 when text-to-911 is unavailable in a particular area. The agreement stated that all four carriers would
provide this capability by June 30, 2013.
As text-to-911 service is rolled out nationwide, there is a significant safety risk for consumers who
attempt in emergency situations to contact 911 via text message but are unaware that the service is not yet
available in their area, or is not available from a service provider other than these four largest wireless
carriers. At the same time, as text-to-911 becomes more widely available, it is likely to generate increased
consumer expectations as to its availability. It is thus increasingly important for consumers to be made
aware when text-to-911 is not available in an emergency.
Accordingly, on May 17, 2013, the Commission adopted a Report and Order requiring all “covered
text providers” to provide consumers with an automatic bounce-back message when a consumer attempts to
send a text message to 911 and the covered text provider cannot deliver the text because the consumer is
located in an area where text-to-911 is not available, or the covered text provider either does not support
text-to-911 generally or does not support it in the particular area at the time of the consumer’s attempted
text. The Commission required covered text providers to have this bounce-back message capability in
place by September 30, 2013. Later, CTIA – the Wireless Association asked for the Commission to clarify
whether the bounce-back requirement also applied to wireless consumers who are roaming on a provider’s
network. On September 30, 2013, the Commission issued an Order on Reconsideration amending the
bounce-back rule to provide that the home provider has the obligation to originate the bounce-back message,
and that the only obligation of the provider offering roaming service (the host provider) is not to 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.

Key Definitions

Covered Text Provider: A "covered text provider" 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.
Bounce-back Message: An automatic text message delivered to a consumer by a covered text provider in
response to the consumer’s attempt to send a text message to 911 when the consumer is located in an area

1 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 11-153, PS Docket No. 10-255 (Dec. 6,
2012) (Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement).

where text-to-911 service is unavailable or the covered text provider does not support text-to-911 service
generally or in the area where the consumer is located at the time.

Compliance Requirements

All covered text providers – including CMRS providers and other providers of text messaging
services that provide two-way communication with text-capable phone numbers – must provide an
automatic bounce-back message to consumers when a consumer attempts to send a text message to the
three-digit short code “911” and the covered text provider cannot deliver the text because the consumer is
located in an area where text-to-911 service is unavailable, or the covered text provider does not support
text-to-911 service at the time.
The bounce-back message must include two essential points of information. It must inform the
consumer that text-to-911 service is not available, and it must advise the consumer or texting program
user to use another means to contact emergency services. The following are examples of bounce-back
messages that meet the Commission’s requirements:
“There is no text-to-911 service available. Make a voice call to 9-1-1 or use another means to
contact emergency services.”
“[Provider] does not support Enhanced 911. If you are in need of emergency services, please
dial 911 on your landline or mobile phone.”
“Please make a voice call to 911. There is no text service to 911 available at this time.”


The rule that the Commission adopted in the Report and Order, codified at 47 C.F.R. § 20.18(n),
was published in the Federal Register on May 29, 2013, and became effective on June 28, 2013. The
amendment to the rule that the Commission adopted in the Order on Reconsideration, codified at 47
C.F.R. § 20.18(n)(7), was published in the Federal Register on October 29, 2013, and was made effective
immediately upon such publication. As noted above, the rule requires covered text providers to have
established the bounce-back capability by September 30, 2013.

Internet Links

Report and Order, FCC 13-64
Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 and Other Next Generation 911 Applications;
Framework for Next Generation 911 Deployments
Statement of Chairman Julius Genachowski

Statement of Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn
Statement of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
Statement of Commissioner Ajit V. Pai

News Release – FCC Adopts Rules To Help Consumers During Text-to-911 Transition
Order on Reconsideration, FCC 13-127
Facilitating the Deployment of Text-to-911 and Other Next Generation 911 Applications;
Framework for Next Generation 911 Deployments
Public Notice, DA 13-2087
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Announces Effective Date for Text-to-911
Bounce-Back Roaming Rule Adopted in September 27, 2013 Order on Reconsideration

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