The Federal Communications Commission proposed rules on Thursday to advance the national transition to a next-generation 911 system. It requires wireless providers to deliver 911 calls and texts in a digital format if requested by 911 authorities.
Thursday’s rules, which are similar to rules the commission proposed last December, would require wireless providers to cover the costs of transmitting 911 calls in a digital format if the states or localities and don’t have a cost-recovery agreement with the provider.
According to the FCC’s news release, some states and localities that are already investing in NG911 have reported that wireless service providers are refusing to connect to these destination points. The FCC said this refusal is delaying the nation’s transition to NG911 and could bring additional costs to an upgrade that could cost $12.7 billion, according to a federal government estimate in 2o18.
“Completing the NG911 transition also requires originating service providers—that is, the 911 callers’ phone companies — to format 911 calls to be compatible with NG911 and to deliver the calls to new destination points on IP networks as established by 911 authorities,” the FCC’s Thursday release reads.
The FCC action follows legislation introduced by U.S. House members in March that would provide $15 billion to help local 911 call centers fund upgrades to a suite of technologies that can handle photos, video, text and call-forwarding.
Jonathan Gilad, the director of government affairs at the National Emergency Number Association, a nonprofit advocacy group, said that the proposed rulemaking would accelerate NG911 upgrades across the country.
“On behalf of the hard-working people of America’s 9-1-1 emergency call centers, NENA applauds the FCC’s approval of this [notice of proposed rulemaking], which would lead to clearer NG911 service requirements for all telecom service providers,” Gilad said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Commission and all parties in developing such a framework under the proposed rulemaking.”