The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted new rules that will help to make text-to-911 services universally available to Americans by the end of 2014.
In a Second Report and Order and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in August 2014, the Commission set a 12/31/2014 deadline for all wireless carriers and “interconnected” text messaging providers to provide text-to-911 services to their subscribers. The nation’s four largest wireless carriers already provide text-to-911 services to those call centers that are technically capable of receiving text messages.
In addition, under the new FCC rules, providers will have six months to deploy text-to-911 service in any area upon receipt of a request from a 911 call center.
According to Commission data, 91 percent of American adults own a cellphone, and 81 percent of cellphone owners use text messaging, making text-to-911 services essential for both public safety authorities and citizens. In addition, text-to-911 helps to bridge the emergency communication gap for the more than 50 million Americans with speech disabilities or who are deaf or hard of hearing.