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Major Carriers Agree to Nationwide 911 Texting Service

Article Comments  4  

Dec 7, 2012, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The top four wireless network operators have all agreed to let customers send text messages to 911 emergency centers via their networks. The Federal Communication Commission has been pushing for what it calls a next-generation 911 service and AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless are all officially on board. They will begin deploying the service in 2013, though the nationwide system is not expected to be complete until mid-2014. The carriers will send automatic bounce-back messages to people who send 911 texts in areas where the service is not yet available. "Access to 911 must catch up with how consumers communicate in the 21st century—and today, we are one step closer towards that vital goal," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Voice calls to 911 are still the most effective way to communicate, but the FCC believes the text messaging service will help those who are unable to make calls during an emergency.

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Rusty Shackleford

Dec 7, 2012, 3:03 PM

Excuse me Mr. Burgler while I text for help

The funny thing is that the stress of an emergency will make an already barely-literate public even more likely to mangle the language. God help the 911 operators who will be forced to try to convert these things into something coherent.

BTW: I was in earshot when someone used their phone to call 911 and when they did the phone played a loud tune. This is just an old Verizon flip phone that's probably 4-5 years old, but do phones typically do that when calling 911? Are equipment developers really dumb enough to program phones to alert criminals to the locations of their victims? Seriously, why not just go all the way and make the phone play "They're hiding over here!" in a repeating loop?
I dialed 911 from a Sony Ericsson W600i, there was no tune. I've never heard that on a newer smartphone, either.

Dec 7, 2012, 4:01 PM

Something positive.

I can say, this will help people who are deaf or mute to be able to contact 911 a lot easier, and in situation when talking would put the caller in more danger.
For those two specific reasons you named, this is an EXCELLENT service. For any other reason, it should probably not be used if you are capable of actuially dialing 911 and speaking to an operator.
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