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US Networks to Deploy Text-to-911 Capabilities on their Networks in 2014

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Four of the USA's largest mobile networks have jointly agreed to offer the ability to send text messages to the emergency services (911) from 2014.

The agreement does not mean that text-to-911 service will be available to all consumers by 2014; that will hinge on the deployment of hardware, software, and training at the more than 6,000 emergency call centers across America.

However, the agreement is expected to hasten the day when all Americans can call for emergency aid via text messages. Text-to-911 capabilities are especially sought by people in the hearing and speech disabilities communities.

"As the public becomes more mobile and embraces new methods for communicating, 9-1-1 has to be ready to answer non-voice requests for assistance," said NENA President Barbara Jaeger, ENP. "This historic agreement demonstrates the shared commitment of parties to serve the evolving needs of citizens in the digital age."

Under the agreement, the parties will work together and with all stakeholders from industry, government, public safety, and consumer groups to develop the technical standards and operational procedures that will ensure a seamless introduction of texting into 911 centers across America.

Specific provisions include:

  • Text-to-911 service capabilities will be deployed throughout the carriers' wireless networks by May 15, 2014;
  • Bounce-back notifications will be sent to subscribers by June 30, 2013 when text-to-911 is unavailable in their area; and
  • Text-to-911 progress reports will be submitted quarterly by the carriers to NENA and APCO.

The agreement also includes a commitment by all parties to educate the public about how and when they can send texts to 911.

"It is critically important that the public be reminded that the best way to reach 911 is still via voice communications," added Jaeger.

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Tags: USA