FCC gives another green light for nationwide Text-to-911 support

Summary:The FCC didn't provide an estimate as to how many lives have been saved by the extra resource, but the agency did highlight the potential and benefits for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled.

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Stepping aside from net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission moved forward on another issue that might garner more support from the general public.

The federal agency announced on Friday it has a set of rules and a timetable in place to make texting to 911 possible nationwide.

In the case of an emergency, a mobile user can text to 911, and the message will be routed to a 911 call center.

The program should be in place by the end of the year, calling for widespread support from wireless carriers and "certain IP-based text application providers."

Emergency 911 call centers can also request text-to-911 support, and text messaging providers in the area will have up to six months to deploy the required service.

The FCC noted that it already tapped and received support from "America’s four largest wireless carriers" (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile) back in May.

Limited support for text-to-911 exists in some states already, and the FCC has been working to set up mandatory, automatic bounce-back reply messages in instances where text-to-911 is not possible.

The FCC cited the service has already been deployed by more than a hundred 911 call centers across portions of 16 states, while two entire states (Vermont and Maine) accept emergency texts.

The FCC didn't provide an estimate as to how many lives have been saved by the extra resource, but the agency did highlight the potential and benefits for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled.

Topics: Mobility, Government : US, Health, Legal, Smartphones

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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