FCC Adopts 9-1-1 Text ‘Bounce-Back’ Rule for Wireless Carriers

Regulation is to let sender know if text message to 9-1-1 is not received
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The U.S. government is requiring wireless carriers and certain other text messaging providers to send an automatic “bounce-back” text message to consumers who try to text 9-1-1 in areas where text-to-911 service is not available.
The Federal Communications Commission has adopted rules requiring wireless carriers to implement the “bounce-back” feature to help protect the public by reducing the risk that consumers who send a text message to a 9-1-1 center that does not receive text messages would mistakenly believe that 9-1-1 authorities have received the message.
Being able to receive text messages is part of the “Next Generation 9-1-1” applications proposed by the FCC. Among the other features of Next Generation 9-1-1 is for 9-1-1 call centers to receive video from callers, and share that video with first responders, according to the commission.
The FCC says the deployment of Next Generation 9-1-1, including text-to-9-1-1 service, has begun, but the transition is still in the very early stages and will not be uniform. “During the transition, text-to-9-1-1 will be available in certain geographic areas sooner than others and may be supported by some service providers and 911 call centers, but not others,” the commission says.
In addition, as text-to-9-1-1 becomes more widely available, it is likely to raise consumer expectations as to its availability, which makes it increasingly important for the public to know when the service is not available in an emergency, the FCC says.
To address that concern, the FCC is requiring wireless carriers and “interconnected” text message providers – that is, providers of software applications that enable consumers to send text messages to and receive text messages from all or substantially all text-capable U.S. telephone numbers – to implement the bounce-back by Sept. 30. However, the requirement does not apply to certain text message applications that reach only a defined set of users, such as those within games and social media, the FCC says.
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