May 13, 2016–Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D., Calif.), the ranking minority member of the House communications and technology subcommittee and co-chair of the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus, has introduced a bill to require the FCC to adopt rules within 18 months of enactment requiring multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) to provide public safety answering points (PSAPs) with the precise location of a 911 caller within a hotel, office building, or other area served by an MLTS.
The degree of accuracy to be required would be determined by the FCC under a statutory “technically feasible and achievable” standard.
Rep. Eshoo had offered a similar measure as an amendment to the Kari’s Law Act (HR 4167), which would require that callers be able to reach 911 through an MLTS without dialing additional digits to reach an outside line, when that bill was approved by the full House Energy and Commerce Committee last month. She withdrew the amendment based on the “solid commitment” voiced by communications subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R., Ore.) that “I think we can find common ground in a separate bill.”
Chairman Walden had expressed a preference for requiring the FCC to issue a notice of inquiry into the issue, rather than mandating the adoption of rules through a notice of proposed rulemaking, and Rep. John Shimkus (R., Ill.), who co-chairs the Next Gen 9-1-1 Caucus, said the Republican position was motivated by uncertainty about how complicated a technical fix would be to achieve better location accuracy, and some lack of faith in the FCC (TRDaily, April 28).
Today, in a statement on the introduction of the Requesting Emergency Services and Providing Origination Notification Systems Everywhere (RESPONSE) Act, Rep. Eshoo said, “When someone dials 911, every second matters. First responders have to know exactly where an individual is calling from, especially if the caller is unable to communicate to the dispatcher, or the caller simply doesn’t know where they are.”
She added, “This is an issue the FCC has been studying since 1994. To wait any longer for action is simply an excuse and a costly one because lives are at stake.”
A spokesperson for Rep. Eshoo said that she is not opposed to the FCC’s issuing an NOI if the agency determines that would be “the most appropriate first step” toward adoption of rules. The spokesperson added, “We’ve had good discussions with our Republican colleagues about these issues and we’ll continue to work with them to find common ground.”
Trey Forgety, director–government affairs at the National Emergency Number Association, said, “We are pleased that Representative Eshoo has introduced legislation to close this critical safety gap for America’s office workers, hotel guests, and dormitory residents. NENA has consistently advocated for a balanced approach to MLTS location. Proposals that require only on-site notification are bad for public safety, and proposals that require station-level location are bad for business. NENA’s approach avoids both extremes by requiring only 1 emergency response location per 40,000 Square Feet of space in most situations. We hope that Representative Eshoo’s Bill will receive the serious attention this issue has needed since 1994.” —Lynn Stanton, email@example.com