FCC: Carriers, OTT providers should provide text-to-911 capabilities

The FCC is considering a rule that would require wireless carriers and providers of over-the-top messaging applications to provide text-to-911 service by the end of 2014. The FCC is seeking comment on that deadline. On Thursday, the FCC adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking on the issue. 

In December 2012, the nation's Tier 1 wireless carriers voluntarily agreed to offer nationwide text-to-911 services by May 15, 2014. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), Sprint (NYSE:S), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) said they all continue to make progress in deploying services that will allow wireless customers to send text messages to 911 operators in place of voice calls. Of those three carriers, Verizon appears to be the furthest along in its efforts to launch the service. "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," the FCC said.

The FCC encouraged all wireless carriers as well as OTT providers "to work with the public safety community to develop similar commitments to support text-to-911 in a timely manner and to propose a solution for consideration by the FCC." If they "develop a satisfactory proposal," the FCC 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." Article