In May, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it wanted to see its text-to-911 service rolled out across all network carriers in the United States. Now the process has moved a stage further: On Friday, the body voted in favor of rules that will compel U.S. carriers and some app developers to implement the system by the end of 2014. The option to send an SMS for help is already available on the bigger networks, but this ruling means that smaller firms will also be obliged to co-operate, ensuring the service is available across the country. Just make sure you don’t use it to complain about a Facebook outage.
The Federal Communications Commission voted Friday to require U.S. mobile carriers and many text-messaging apps to enable users to text emergency dispatch centers, even after questions about whether the centers will be ready by the deadline. The commission’s vote requires mobile carriers and some texting apps to put emergency text-to-911 functionality in place by the end of the year. Even though the nation’s four largest mobile carriers have all added text-to-911 functionality this year, less than 2 percent of the nation’s 6,800 emergency dispatch centers are ready to receive texts, said Commissioner Ajit Pai. The commission’s action will give smartphone users the impression they can send text to emergency responders, when many will not be able to, he said. The FCC’s action “encourages the public to dive into text-to-911 functionality, when in reality, there’s hardly any water in the pool,” Pai said. “The order is sure to result in massive consumer confusion, and therefore will endanger, rather than advance, public safety.” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler applauded the largest mobile carriers—Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA—for adding text-to-911 functionality. The agency needs to push other carriers and emergency dispatch centers, called public-safety answering points or PSAPs, to do the same, he added.
Share Your Thoughts