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US Regulator Pushes for Most Support for Emergency Text Messaging Services

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The USA's telecoms regulator, the FCC has issued a ruling that more mobile networks should support the facility for contacting emergency services via text message.

Approximately 15 percent of the United States population, or 34.5 million people, are deaf or hard of hearing, and approximately 7.5 million people have speech disabilities.

The FCC also sought further comment on regulatory proposals to help ensure that Americans will be able to send these texts by the end of the year, regardless of which text provider they use, in areas where 911 call centers can receive texts.

While voice calling to 911 remains the preferred method, consumers also expect to be able to send a text to 911 and have it reach authorities. Yet text-to-911 is not currently available in most areas or on most texting platforms.

In adopting a policy statement that outlines objectives for text-to-911, the Commission noted that the nation's four largest mobile networks have committed to make text-to-911 available by May 15, 2014 -- but that is only possible in areas where the 911 call center is itself prepared to receive texts.

In addition to the mobile networks, the FCC says that OTT messaging suppliers should also be required to support text messaging to the emergency services.

If stakeholders develop a satisfactory proposal, the Commission stated that it would only need to codify the solution to ensure that it applies to all providers equally, including new entrants to the marketplace, and gives clarity to the 911 community.

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Tags: fcc  USA