FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has announced what she called breakthrough agreements with America’s three largest mobile phone providers to start delivering vertical location information in connection with 911 calls nationwide in the coming days.
“This information will help first responders quickly locate 911 callers in multistory buildings, which will reduce response times and ultimately save lives,” a statement from the federal agency reads..
The FCC adopted rules to improve location information for 911 wireless calls in 2015. Those rules required nationwide wireless providers to deploy dispatchable location or meet certain z-axis location accuracy requirements in the nation’s largest 25 markets by April 3, 2021, and to certify to such deployment by June 2, 2021. According to the statement, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon sought an extension of these deadlines, based in part on challenges with testing z-axis solutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, the FCC announced an Enforcement Bureau inquiry into these providers’ compliance with the FCC’s deadlines as well as the current capabilities of z-axis solutions.
“To improve public safety and greatly speed up nationwide implementation of vertical location information, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau reached settlements with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon that resolve the investigations,” the statement reads. “The settlements require each company to start providing wireless 911 callers’ z-axis location information to 911 call centers within seven days; to implement a compliance plan that includes specific testing, reporting, and public interest conditions; and to pay a $100,000 settlement amount.”
According to the FCC, these enforceable commitments extend beyond the 25 largest metropolitan areas required under FCC rules and instead assure that vertical location information will be made available to public safety entities nationwide. The settlements also will provide public safety stakeholders with greater visibility into industry progress toward dispatchable location and floor-level accuracy and guidance on receiving and using z-axis information. Under these agreements, the FCC, carriers, and public safety can move forward collaboratively to better protect American lives.
“Six years is too long to wait for 911 vertical location information that can save lives,” said Rosenworcel. “These settlements accomplish what has evaded the agency for too long: They ensure that the FCC, public safety and wireless carriers work together to immediately start delivering this information to first responders without further delay. They also ensure that we are improving our 911 location accuracy capabilities everywhere in the country and not just in the top 25 markets. This progress will advance important public safety objectives and benefit all Americans.”
The settlements, formally called Consent Decrees, are available at: