The Nation’s 911 System

911 service is a vital part of our nation's emergency response and disaster preparedness system. In October 1999, the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 (911 Act) took effect with the purpose of improving public safety by encouraging and facilitating the prompt deployment of a nationwide, seamless communications infrastructure for emergency services. One provision of the 911 Act directs the FCC to make 911 the universal emergency number for all telephone services.

The FCC has taken a number of steps to increase public safety by encouraging and coordinating development of a nationwide, seamless communications system for emergency services. The FCC has designed and established transition periods to bring the nation's communications infrastructure into compliance.

In order to deliver emergency help more quickly and effectively, the carriers and public safety entities are upgrading the 911 network on a regular basis. For example, most 911 systems now automatically report the telephone number and location of 911 calls made from wireline phones, a capability called Enhanced 911, or E911.

The FCC also requires wireless telephone carriers to provide 911 and E911 capability, where a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) requests it. Once it is implemented fully, wireless E911 will provide an accurate location for 911 calls from wireless phones.

Other FCC rules regulate 911 for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), mobile satellite services, telematics, and Text Telephone Devices (TTYs). The 911 requirements are an important part of FCC programs to apply modern communications technologies to public safety.

911 History

The Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 (911 Act) took effect on October 26, 1999. The purpose of the 911 Act is to improve public safety by encouraging and facilitating the prompt deployment of a nationwide, seamless communications infrastructure for emergency services.

One provision of the 911 Act directs the FCC to make 911 the universal emergency number for all telephone services. Where other emergency numbers had been used, the FCC was directed to establish appropriate transition periods for areas in which 911 was not in use as an emergency telephone number.

State and local authorities continue to expand 911 coverage and upgrade 911 services. Although there may be some counties that still do not have basic 911 services, wireless carriers can deliver 911 calls to the appropriate local emergency authority.

Based on these reports, virtually all carriers now use 911 as the universal emergency number and route 911 calls to an appropriate PSAP. However, emergency services through a PSAP may not be available in all localities.

911 Master Public Safety Answering Point Registry

In December 2003, the FCC began collecting data to build a registry of public safety answering points (PSAPs). A primary PSAP is defined as a PSAP to which 911 calls are routed directly from the 911 Control Office, such as, a selective router or 911 tandem. A secondary PSAP is defined as a PSAP to which 911 calls are transferred from a primary PSAP. The PSAP database serves as a tool to aid the Commission in evaluating the state of PSAP readiness and E911 deployment.


Download the FCC Master PSAP Registry File (xlsx)

Last updated December 16, 2015

Note: The PSAP Registry now includes a column indicating the date on which individual PSAP information was modified.


 

The Registry lists PSAPs by an FCC assigned identification number, PSAP Name, State, County, City, and provides information on any type of record change and the reason for updating the record. The Commission updates the Registry periodically as it receives additional information. For further information concerning the FCC's Master PSAP Registry and carrier reporting requirements, or to notify the Commission of changes to the PSAP Registry, contact Timothy May at Timothy.May@fcc.gov or at (202) 418-1463.

Enhanced 911 - Wireless Services

The FCC's wireless Enhanced 911 (E911) rules seek to improve the effectiveness and reliability of wireless 911 services by providing 911 dispatchers with additional information on wireless 911 calls. The FCC's wireless E911 rules apply to all wireless licensees, broadband Personal Communications Service (PCS) licensees, and certain Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) licensees.

The FCC has divided its wireless E911 program into two parts - Phase I and Phase II. Under Phase I, the FCC requires carriers, within six months of a valid request by a local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), to provide the PSAP with the telephone number of the originator of a wireless 911 call and the location of the cell site or base station transmitting the call.

Under Phase II, the FCC requires wireless carriers, within six months of a valid request by a PSAP, to begin providing information that is more precise to PSAPs, specifically, the latitude and longitude of the caller. This information must meet FCC accuracy standards, generally to within 50 to 300 meters, depending on the type of technology used. The deployment of E911 requires the development of new technologies and upgrades to local 911 PSAPs, as well as coordination among public safety agencies, wireless carriers, technology vendors, equipment manufacturers, and local wireline carriers.

Annual Reports on the Collection and Use of 911 Fees

The New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 (NET 911 Act) requires the Commission to submit an annual report to Congress on the collection and distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 fees and charges by the states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and Tribal Nations (states and other reporting entities). As part of its annual review, the NET 911 Act requires the Commission to report whether 911 fees and charges collected by states and other reporting entities are being used for any purpose other than to support 911 and Enhanced 911 (E911) services. The Commission formally solicits public comment on the Report, the information provided to the Commission by states and other reporting entities, and the reported expenditure of funds for Next Generation 911 (NG911) services.

Current Report: The Sixth Annual Report covers the collection and distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 fees and charges for the calendar year ending December 31, 2013, and was submitted to Congress on December 31, 2014.

Past Reports:

Consumer Information

The official emergency number in the United States and Canada is 911. Although the first 911 call was placed in Haleyville, Alabama in 1968, it was not until 1999 that the United States Congress directed the FCC to make 911 the universal emergency number in the United States for all telephone services. The 911 network is now a vital part of our nation's emergency response and disaster preparedness system. Emergency personnel and others often learn about emergencies through 911 calls. Dialing 911 quickly connects a caller to a nearby Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) dispatcher who is trained to route your call to local emergency medical, fire, and law enforcement agencies.

911 lines are designated for emergency calls, such as reporting a crime in progress, reporting a fire, or requesting an ambulance.

Using 911 for non-emergency calls may delay help for people caught in real emergencies. Some communities have designated the number 3-1-1 for non-emergency calls to police and other government services.

911 Releases

Updated:
Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - 12:00am