Text-to-911 initiative to be made available across the US’ four largest wireless carriers.
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile – the four largest wireless carriers in the US - have each agreed to accelerate the availability of text-to-911, with significant deployments expected next year and nationwide availability by May 15th, 2014.
Text-to-911 is designed to provide consumers with enhanced access to the emergency services in situations where speaking over the phone could potentially place the caller in danger, or where a disabled person is unable to make a voice call. The service will be aimed as a complement to voice calls to 911 – not a substitute. Consumers are encouraged to always contact the emergency service via voice call when possible.
The acceleration of text-to-911 deployments and trials are aimed at ensuring that over 90 per cent of wireless consumers in the US, including millions with hearing or speech disabilities, will be able to access emergency services by texting a message to 911, while local 911 call centres - known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) - are also set to receive the texts.
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, commented: "Access to 911 must catch up with how consumers communicate in the 21st century, and today, we are one step closer towards that vital goal. Last year I announced a comprehensive plan to accelerate the transition to Next Generation 911, including text-to-911, and the FCC has acted to advance this effort.
"I also called on the communications industry and public safety entities to work together to enable nationwide text-to-911 as quickly as possible, and I am pleased that the nation's four largest wireless carriers and leading public safety organisations have responded with today's commitment, which will save lives starting in 2013.