FCC contemplates rules for text-to-911 service

Acknowledging the widespread use of texting as a primary communications medium, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed rules that would make it easier for citizens to send text messages to 911 emergency services.

In a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in December 2012, the Commission would require all wireless phone service carriers and certain providers of text messaging applications to enable customers to send 911 messages to those public safety answering points (PSAPs) that are equipped to receive them. The Commission notes that text-to-911 capabilities could provide an important alternative means of communication with emergency service personnel for those with hearing or speech disabilities, or in cases where a 911 voice call might endanger the caller.

The Commission’s action follows a voluntary pledge by Sprint Nextel, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to provide text-to-911 service by not later than May 15, 2014, and is intended to solicit comment on whether all carriers and third-party message providers can offer comparable service within this timeframe.

Read the Federal Communications Commission’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Text-to-911.