The Big Four US mobile carriers–AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile–have just sent out a press release committing to push the issue of text to 911 capabilities, hopefully sooner than, but at least by, 2014.
These major players, plus The 911 Association and the Association for Public-Safety Communications Officials International, have decided to work together on standards and procedures to make this happen with a seamless transition to text to 911 services across the US.
Of course, there’s a caveat with that date, according to the press release:
The agreement does not mean that text-to-9 1 1 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 9-1-1 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-9-1-1 capabilities are especially sought by people in the hearing and speech disabilities communities.
Still, the timeline does include bounce-back notifications by the end of June, 2013, and nationwide rollouts of such a service by mid-May, 2014. Let’s hope that the agreement will help prioritize such text messages for all cell phone users in case of emergencies, and not let them fall by the wayside int he event of system slowdowns or the like.
“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.”
The FCC will consider the proposal on December 12 of this year.