Enhanced 911 (E-911)
CTIA-The Wireless Association® and the wireless industry are fully committed to ensuring access to Enhanced 911 (E-911) services for customers on their wireless phones, and to improving E-911 services to all Americans regardless of the wireless technologies and services used.
The wireless industry is investing substantially in the network capabilities needed to identify the location of wireless calls to 911, and to meet deadlines established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for deploying these enhanced technologies.
With passage of the New and Emerging Technologies (NET) 911 Improvement Act, Congress mandated development of plans to move to a national IP-enabled emergency network capable of responding to all citizen-activated emergency communications. This will include providing emergency responders with the location and identity of all 911 callers, whether they are using a wireless cellular phone or mobile IP (Internet protocol) voice service connection. At the same time, we must ensure that we balance the needs of public safety with that of consumer privacy.
Customers depend on more types of mobile wireless broadband products and services than ever before, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. As a result, the wireless industry believes that successful implementation of E-911 requires focus on two important principles: first, a national forum for reaching consensus among major stakeholders, and second, equal capability to install the necessary technology among all providers and public safety entities.
As proud supporters of the public safety community, CTIA and the wireless industry also believe it’s vital that our first responders are properly equipped to respond to wireless distress calls as quickly as possible. With more than 20 percent of American households going wireless-only and nearly 400,000 wireless E-911 calls made every single day, we must make sure that the public safety answering points (PSAP), or 911 call centers, are prepared for next generation 911. Despite consumers contributing via their monthly wireless bill to the "911 tax and fee," a FCC report released in August 2010 said that 13 states used the 911 fund to support programs other than 911/E-911, including 10 states that used it to close their state’s general fund. This is why we support Congress to enact legislation that would stop states from poaching money from our public safety community.
- Wireless Carriers Are Investing Heavily to Support E-911 Services. CTIA and its members recognize the importance of ensuring E-911 location accuracy and have undertaken significant efforts to deploy the enabling technology. Wireless providers have invested billions of dollars to upgrade hardware and software in their networks to deploy E-911 services. The industry has already fulfilled thousands of PSAP requests, and is working actively with PSAPs to meet their needs.
- CTIA Recommends a Consensus-Based Forum to Develop Technical Solutions for E-911.CTIA and its members strongly urge the FCC to create a national forum for all affected stakeholders, such as members of the public safety and disabilities communities, wireless providers of all sizes that use varying air interface technologies and wireless equipment manufacturers. The FCC can best serve the public interest by using a consensus-building forum approach to develop a record and body of knowledge as the foundation for a new E-911 framework and rules.
- The FCC Should Retain Authority Over Enforcement of 911 Under the NET 911 Improvement Act.CTIA encourages the FCC to maintain oversight and enforcement of NET 911 based on the complexity of the requirements of developing plans to roll out a nationwide E-911 system, and the vital importance of ensuring progress continues in the improvement of 911 services to users of new and emerging technologies.
- Responsible Allocation of E-911 Funds Will Reach E-911 Coverage and Access Goals Sooner.Wireless carriers are investing in E-911 technology, and wireless customers are contributing to the state and local In a majority of states, the E-911 system is funded specifically by E-911 surcharges and not through general tax revenues. Unfortunately, some states have been dipping into their E-911 funds to pay for other things, from covering budget shortfalls to outright diversion of funds to other purposes. The wireless industry is working with state administrative agencies to ensure that where possible, states agree to administer E-911 funds using model legislation endorsed by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
- Many Americans have no access to E-911 benefits because their local wireline phone company lacks the ability to carry the information to the 911 agency, or the PSAP lacks the funds to upgrade its system to use the wireless caller’s location information. Because PSAP capabilities remain inconsistent in some parts of the country, many consumers have not been able to receive the full benefits of this lifesaving technology.
- Wireless Consumers Expect All 911 Calls to Be Forwarded to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP). As a result of the wireless industry’s substantial technical and operational efforts, the public expects to be able to reach critical emergency 911 services from any wireless device, when they need it most. This is why CTIA supports the FCC’s “all calls” rule which requires all emergency 911 calls placed over wireless networks to be delivered to PSAPs. Included are 911 calls from non-service initialized (NSI) handsets such as handsets that were never or no longer are associated with a wireless carrier. The wireless industry recognizes that accidental or fraudulent calls from consumers waste valuable PSAP resources. CTIA and the wireless industry remain committed to working with local law enforcement agencies and the public safety community to thwart the worst abusers of critical public safety resources.
- We must balance the needs of legitimate law enforcement and emergency needs with that of consumer privacy. While carefully balancing the needs of the public safety community, CTIA has been a leader in location privacy. In the late 1990s, we supported The Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-81, 113 Stat. 1286-1290), which addressed some of the issues that arose from the FCC’s E-911 rulemaking. We also developed the industry’s “Best Practices and Guidelines” in 2008 to promote and protect the privacy of wireless customers’ location information. This was necessary as we noticed the trend of location-based services that were developed and deployed for applications other than E-911. In 2010, we updated the Guidelines to reflect the changing wireless ecosystem which has included a rapid evolution toward open platforms, the increasing number of consumers adopting smart phones and the prevalence of GPS-enabled LBS apps that can be downloaded without knowledge or involvement by wireless carriers.
These simple tips could save a life when dialing 911 from a wireless device:
- Stay calm and speak clearly.
- Tell the 911 call taker the specific location of the emergency (address, street intersection, landmarks, highway mile marker), your cellphone number, the nature of the emergency and the type of assistance needed.
- Stay on the line until the 911 call taker has obtained all of the information that is needed.
- If the signal is lost and you are disconnected, call back right away.
- If you are in a moving vehicle when calling 911 from a cellphone, be sure to stop the vehicle. It is difficult to obtain all of the information needed if you are getting further from the emergency.
Last Updated: October 2010