Federal Communications Commission
COMMISSIONER MICHAEL O’RIELLY
APPROVING IN PART AND CONCURRING IN PART
Wireless E911 Location Accuracy Requirements,
PS Docket No. 07-114
As more Americans rely exclusively on mobile phones, we must ensure that first responders can
quickly and accurately locate wireless callers that dial 911 in an emergency. For this reason, I am
supportive of issuing today’s notice.
Going forward, however, we should avoid imposing location accuracy rules that are too far ahead
of available technology. Aspirational goals are laudable, but they cannot be the basis for regulation. Any
requirements that develop from this proceeding must be truly feasible as judged by experts operating in
The deadlines we impose must also be realistic. I am concerned that the proposed timelines for
implementing indoor location accuracy requirements do not meet this objective. Many steps are needed
to deploy these new technologies. Vendors will have to test their technology and go through the
standards setting process. Location systems will have to be built. Hardware will have to be added to
handsets. New handsets will have to be introduced to consumers and achieve sufficient market
penetration. This all takes time.
In fact, the record suggests that, after a system-wide deployment of new technology, it can take
approximately four years for upgraded handsets to comprise 67 percent—and approximately five years to
comprise 80 percent—of the total phones on a wireless provider’s network.1 We must ask whether it is
possible, within two, three or even five years, for wireless providers to meet the proposed location
accuracy requirements for 67 or 80 percent of all indoor calls to 911 when the necessary handsets may not
even make up 67 or 80 percent of the total phones in the marketplace.
We learned these important lessons with the Phase II location accuracy rulemaking. There, the
Commission established requirements and deadlines based on representations of emerging, as opposed to
proven, technologies. It is fair to say that implementation did not go smoothly. A year after these rules
were adopted, the Commission had to modify its benchmarks to “provide carriers with a reasonable
prospect of meeting the [Phase II] accuracy and reliability requirements.”2 Despite this relief, the
Commission still had to issue approximately 40 waivers, extensions or stays and a dozen enforcement
For these reasons, I regret that I must concur to the proposed deadlines in the notice. I look
forward to engaging with stakeholders regarding timeframes in which it is feasible to meet the proposed
indoor location accuracy requirements. One idea is basing the effective date of any rules on a successful
demonstration, in a test bed, that there is technology available that meets the location accuracy
1 Letter from Joseph P. Marx, Assistant Vice President, AT&T Services Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC,
Attachment, at 4 (Jan. 31, 2014).
2 Letter from Brian M. Josef, CTIA-The Wireless Association, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal
Communications Commission, at 1 (Feb, 14, 2014) (citing Revision of the Commission’s Rules to Ensure
Compatibility with Enhanced 911 Emergency Calling Systems
, Fourth Memorandum Opinion and Order, 15 FCC
Rcd 17442 ¶ 23 (2000)).
. at 2.
Federal Communications Commission
requirements, but there may be others. We want to ensure that industry is capable of implementing any
rules both timely and successfully so that this information is available for first responders.
Separately, I am pleased that the notice raises important questions about privacy. I hope the
Commission will examine the privacy implications of advanced technologies and government access to
consumers’ location information. We need to be extremely careful with such data as technology evolves
to better pinpoint a user’s location for use in emergencies. We are entering a world where the
Commission may require the ability to identify a person’s location within 3 meters vertically—which is
basically at floor level—and 50 meters horizontally. Law-abiding Americans should not have to worry
about being tracked by law enforcement or other government entities in non-emergency circumstances.
Finally, I appreciate hearing from Steve Souder, the Director of the Department of Public Safety
Communications for Fairfax County, Virginia and thank him for joining us here today. His perspective is
helpful to our process and I applaud his service. I would, however, like to take this opportunity to echo
the comments made by Chairman Wheeler at our last Open Meeting. Just as we look to require providers
of technology to improve their public safety offerings, we need Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs)
to modernize their capabilities as well.
I thank the Chairman for including a number of my edits and the dedicated staff of the Public
Safety and Homeland Security Bureau for all of their hard work on this notice. I also thank my colleague
Commissioner Rosenworcel for her work on this issue.