August 30, 2016–More than 600 public safety answering points (PSAPs) that cover about 20% of the U.S. population now support text-to-911 services, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in an Aug. 23 letter to Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) that was released today. Mr. Wheeler also said the Commission plans to expand its outreach to state and local officials concerning the deployment of next-generation 911 (NG-911) services. Mr. Wheeler’s letter, which responded to a June 27 letter from Mr. Schumer, said, “With respect to deployment oftext-to-911 , it is important to note at the outset that the decision by individual Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) as to whether and when they will support text-to-911 is a state or local decision, not a Commission decision. I am pleased that to date, over 600 PSAPs, covering approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population, now support text-to-911 , and that many more jurisdictions throughout the nation are in the planning or implementation stages. We are working closely with state and local 911 authorities, including in New York City and elsewhere in New York State, to encourage additional text-to-911 deployment and to assist such efforts wherever possible.”
Mr. Wheeler also reiterated that the FCC “is committed to doing everything in our power to quickly transition the nation to NG911 . In addition to requiring wireless carriers to support text-to-911 , we have acted to improve 911 location accuracy and enhance the reliability of legacy, transitional, and NG911 networks. While these steps represent progress, I agree that we collectively can do more to help the nation’s PSAPs overcome the funding, planning, and operational challenges that are stalling the transition to NG911, and I will continue to be an aggressive champion towards that end.
“In your letter, you urge the Commission to convene all the appropriate stakeholders to identify barriers to NG911 implementation and ways to speed up the process. We have already begun this task by convening our PSAP Task Force, which has brought together many of the nation’s leading experts on 911 and NG911, including practicing 911 professionals from state and local government, as well as representatives from public safety organizations, industry, consumer groups, and the federal government,” Mr. Wheeler added.
“Earlier this year, the Task Force issued a comprehensive report containing recommendations to help PSAPs migrate to Next Generation architecture, develop sustainable funding models, and provide cybersecurity protection to the 911 system as it transitions to IP-based technology. The Task Force is continuing to refine its recommendations and we are committed to working with all stakeholders to help implement them,” the letter added. “In particular, we intend to expand our engagement to include local and state government leaders, including state legislators and governors, who are essential to making the NG911 transition happen in their states and communities. “As I have repeatedly noted during the last year, Congress has the unique ability to make the transition to NG911 a national priority and to provide the means to achieve it,” Mr. Wheeler said. – Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org