FCC Issues Next Generation 9-1-1 ‘Action Plan’

Plan seeks to ensure that effective emergency response is a critical element of the broadband environment.
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a “five-step action plan” charting the transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) services, but the plan is an advance document to an FCC rulemaking—expected in September—on how to accelerate NG911 adoption.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued the plan that, he says, seeks “to ensure that effective emergency response is a critical element of the broadband environment.” The five steps of the plan are:

  • Develop automatic location accuracy mechanisms for NG-911
  • Facilitate the completion and implementation of NG911 technical standards for the hardware and software that carriers and public safety answering points (PSAPs) use to communicate NG911 information
  • Work with state 9-1-1 authorities, other federal agencies, and other governing entities to provide technical expertise and develop a coordinated approach to NG911 governance
  • Develop an NG911 funding model focused on the cost-effectiveness of the NG911 network infrastructure linking PSAPs and carriers
  • Enable consumers to send text, photos, and videos to PSAPs.

In September, the FCC is expected to launch a rulemaking to consider how to accelerate NG911 adoption to help answer practical, technical questions about how to enable text, photo and video transmission to 911, including how to ensure adequate broadband infrastructure to deliver the bandwidth PSAPs will need to provide NG911. As part of the proceeding, the FCC will examine interim solutions for ensuring that carriers and service providers support transmission of text-to-911.

“It’s hard to imagine that airlines can send text messages if your flight is delayed, but you can’t send a text message to 9-1-1 in an emergency,” Genachowski said. “The unfortunate truth is that the capability of our emergency response communications has not kept pace with commercial innovation, has not kept pace with what ordinary people now do every day with communications devices,” he said adding, “The shift to NG911 can’t be about if, but about when and how.”