Lake Havasu City, AZ – According to a national statistics report, more than 41 percent of American homes are now wireless only. The number of homes switching to wireless only is rising at least 5% per year. Before ditching a landline phone for a wireless one, it is important that consumers understand that doing so may have unforeseen consequences. “When someone calls 911 from a landline phone, the emergency operator is able to trace the call to pinpoint the exact location of the emergency. This isn’t true for cell phones,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated. “With more and more Americans turning to cell phones, it is important that something is done to improve our emergency response system and enforce location requirements when it comes to 911 calls from mobile devices,” Johnson continued.
More than 70% of all emergency calls are made from a mobile phone, but unlike landlines they do not alert dispatchers to the callers’ location. According to the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council, less than 50% of all cell phone emergency calls are able to be traced. “If the signal is weak the dispatcher only receives the location of the mobile phone tower and that can be miles away from the actual phone,” Johnson stated. “While the FCC did propose new guidelines this year for cellphone companies and suppliers to update location based services when it comes to 911 calling, the requirements fall short of what needs to be done now,” Johnson continued.
The new FCC regulations will require phone providers to provide location data on 40% of calls and increases to 70% in five years. By six years they will need to be able to tell dispatchers coordinates within 50 meters of the call in 80% of cases. Another FCC rule that is currently in the works also aims to help mobile users and the 911 issue. FCC’s proposed text-to-911 rule is the ability to send a text message to reach 911 emergency call takers from your mobile phone or device. The FCC’s timeline for a national rollout is unknown, but cell phone carriers such as AT&T and Sprint must support text-to-911 by June of 2015. “While these new rules and regulations are much needed in today’s almost all mobile world, the time frame for implementation is taking far too long. A lot can change with mobile technology in six years putting our emergency communications even further behind when it comes to innovation,” Johnson explained.