FCC Proposes New Rules to Help Emergency Responders Locate Wireless 9-1-1 Callers


On February 20, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) proposed updates to the FCC’s Enhanced 911 (“E911”) rules to help emergency responders locate wireless 911 callers.  (See FCC Public Notice (Feb. 20, 2014): FCC Acts to Help Emergency Responders to Locate 911 Callers).  Under the existing E911 rules, wireless providers are required to automatically transmit location information to emergency responders, but the rules only required certain accuracy levels for wireless 911 calls made outdoors.

In the FCC’s notice of proposed rulemaking, the agency concluded that the increase in wireless telephone usage, especially the fact that indoor wireless calls now comprise the majority of 911 calls, necessitated an enlargement in the scope of the E911 rules to include indoor environments.  (See In the Matter of Wireless E911 Location Accuracy Requirements, Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, PS Docket No. 07-114 (rel. Feb. 21, 2014)).  The Commission noted that the current rulemaking proceeding was limited to wireless providers.  However, the Commission stated that it would continue to consider indoor location requirements for other services including VoIP, and over-the-top providers.

The Commission proposed that wireless providers be required to deliver accurate location information to Public Safety Answering Points (i.e., emergency responders) for indoor wireless 911 calls.  In the short-term, the Commission proposed requiring providers only “approximate location information” that was sufficient to identify the building from which the 911 call was made.  However, in the long-term, the Commission proposed requiring providers to provide “in-building location information at the room or office suite level.”  In implementing these broad compliance benchmarks, the Commission sought comment to more than a dozen detailed requirements including the adoption of a 30-second requirement for the maximum time period allowed for wireless providers to generate a location fix for indoor 911 calls.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this Advisory, or are interested in filing comments or monitoring replies related to this docket, please do not hesitate to contact Michael Donahue at mpd@commlawgroup.com.

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