Editor in Chief
- Dec 30, 2010
- Reaction score
- Austin, TX
Here's a disturbing bit of news that some of us may not have been aware of. Apparently, the wireless carriers in the US are not very good at handling 911 location information in emergencies. Furthermore, some carriers even have issues making sure 911 calls get through to emergency dispatchers at all.
Verizon is the most notable example as they have had the hardest time with this issue. In fact, recently Brunswick police in Maine have alerted residents that wireless calls to 911 emergency services on Verizon's network are not even getting through. They are urging residents to use a different carrier's phone or a physical landline (as if every emergency situation would allow for that possibility).
Apparently, this has been an ongoing issue between the FCC and some of the carriers, especially Verizon. Big Red claims the technology is unavailable for them to implement more accurate 911 location information. According to the source of this article, the truth is that the technology does exist, but Verizon is simply refusing to implement it due to the upgrade costs. Here's a quote from the report,
The FCC proposal, released in February, would mandate that for 67 percent of 911 calls in the first few years, cellphone carriers provide the horizontal location of an indoor caller within 164 feet and the vertical location within about 10 feet. The proposal would also require providers to demonstrate compliance and establish a channel for 911 administrators to raise complaints.
The wireless carriers refused such a proposal as they claimed they didn’t have the technology to implement such a plan. In reality, they just don’t want to spend the small amount that it would cost to improve this technology. Then again, are people surprised at the pushback considering the wireless carriers originally fought the FCC on providing any 911 location information in the late 1990′s.
While we are not able to make a judgment on all aspects of this case just yet, the fact that there is an ongoing fight between the FCC and Verizon regarding this issue is worrisome at the very least. It's also terrifying to think that customers in Brunswick, Maine can't rely on their own cell phones to get through to 911 emergency services. It makes you wonder where else in the country Verizon's "flawless" network might have random problems with 911 services.
If you know more about this issue, please share in the thread below. The picture above comes from the Find Me 911 Coalition who are trying to bring this important issue to the foreground of public discussion.
Thanks to @CJM for the tip!