FCC details mobile E911 accuracy requirements

The FCC laid out a series of benchmarks Wednesday in an effort to ensure that wireless carriers meet E911 location accuracy requirements within five years.

Wireless phones relying on network-based technology must provide Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) with reports on their locations within 100 meters of accuracy for 67 percent of calls, and within 300 meters for 95 percent of calls, by Sept. 11, 2012, according to the order. Phones installed with GPS chips, meanwhile, must provide PSAPs with reports on their locations within 50 meters of accuracy for 67 percent of calls, and within 100 meters for 95 percent of calls, by the same date.

The FCC also specified certain benchmarks to measure the carriers' progress, such as meeting the location accuracy requirements in at least 75 percent of PSAPs a carrier serves by 2010.

"We all know that people are relying on cell phones for more and more of their calls, including calls to 911," said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. "The advances in wireless technology allow people to call for help more quickly and from more remote places than ever before. We need to make sure that our location accuracy requirements keep pace with those changes."

Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein dissented in part from the FCC's order, and questioned whether the commission's goals of achieving full compliance by 2012 were realistic. He also said that the commission had not done enough to involve wireless carriers in policy deliberations on the benchmarks.

"When we launched this proceeding, I questioned our decision to bifurcate the issues with the goal of setting a new accuracy compliance standard well in advance of making a determination of how we can actually achieve improved accuracy location," he said. "It is unfortunate that we move forward today on compliance details that do not leverage the expertise of industry and public safety."

The FCC's actions earned the praise of James Barbour, the president of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), a non-profit group dedicated to emergency communications issues.

"We live in a world of rapidly changing communications in which consumers increasingly rely on their wireless device," he said. "However, when a caller is unable to describe their location during an emergency, the ability of a 9-1-1 call taker to provide help is often only as good as the location information provided with the call... Last night's decision by the FCC is a very important step in the right direction."

This story, "FCC details mobile E911 accuracy requirements" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon