[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 6 (Wednesday, January 9, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 1799-1822]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-00159]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 20

[PS Docket No. 11-153; PS Docket No. 10-255; FCC 12-149]


Next Generation 911; Text-to-911; Next Generation 911 
Applications

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend its 
rules by requiring all wireless carriers and providers of 
``interconnected'' text messaging applications to support the ability 
of consumers to send text messages to 911 in all areas throughout the 
nation where 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) are also 
prepared to receive the texts. In addition, to inform consumers and 
prevent confusion, the Commission proposes to require all wireless 
carriers and interconnected text messaging providers to send automated 
``bounce back'' error messages to consumers attempting to text 911 when 
the service is not available.

DATES: Comment Date for Section III.A: January 29, 2013.
    Reply Comment Date for Section III.A: February 8, 2013.
    Comment Date for Other Sections: March 11, 2013.
    Reply Comment Date for Other Sections: April 9, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments to Federal Communications Commission, 445 
12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Aaron Garza, Attorney Advisor, (202) 
418-1175. For additional information concerning the Paperwork Reduction 
Act information collection requirements contained in this document, 
contact Judith Boley-Herman, (202) 418-0214, or send an email to 
PRA@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's 
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in PS Docket No. 11-153, PS 
Docket No. 10-255, FCC 12-149, released on December 13, 2012. The full 
text of this document is available for public inspection during regular 
business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-A257, 445 12th 
Street SW., Washington, DC 20554, or online at http://www.fcc.gov/document/text-911-further-notice-proposed-rulemaking.

I. Introduction

    1. Wireless consumers are increasingly using text messaging as a 
means of everyday communication on a variety of platforms. The legacy 
911 system, however, does not support text messaging as a means of 
reaching emergency responders, leading to potential consumer confusion 
and even to possible danger. As consumer use of carrier-based and third 
party-provided texting applications expands and evolves, the 911 system 
must also evolve to enable wireless consumers to reach 911 in those 
emergency situations where a voice call is not feasible or appropriate.
    2. In this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we propose rules 
that will enable Americans to send text messages to 911 (text-to-911) 
and that will educate and inform consumers regarding the future 
availability and appropriate use of text-to-911. Specifically, we 
propose to require all wireless carriers and providers of 
``interconnected'' text messaging applications to support the ability 
of consumers to send text messages to 911 in all areas throughout the 
nation where 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) are also 
prepared to receive the texts. In addition, to inform consumers and 
prevent confusion, we propose to require all wireless carriers and 
interconnected text messaging providers to send automated ``bounce 
back'' error messages to consumers attempting to text 911 when the 
service is not available.
    3. Our proposals build on the recently filed voluntary commitment 
by the four largest wireless carriers--in an agreement with the 
National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the Association of 
Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) (Carrier-NENA-APCO 
Agreement)--to make text-to-911 available to their customers by May 15, 
2014, and to provide automatic bounce back messages across their 
networks by June 30, 2013. The baseline requirements we propose in this 
Further Notice are modeled on the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement, and we 
seek comment on whether all carriers, including regional, small and 
rural carriers, and all ``interconnected text'' providers can achieve 
these milestones in the same or similar timeframes. To allow for the 
possibility of implementing our bounce back proposal by June 30, 2013, 
we are seeking comment on this portion of the Further Notice on an 
accelerated basis. Moreover, in light of the importance of these 
issues, we intend to resolve promptly the questions we raise in the 
remaining portion of the Further Notice in 2013.
    4. Our proposal to add text capability to the 911 system will 
vastly enhance the system's accessibility for over 40 million Americans 
with hearing or speech disabilities. It will also provide a vital and 
lifesaving alternative to the public in situations where 911 voice 
service is unavailable or placing a voice call could endanger the 
caller. Indeed, as recent history has shown, text messaging is often 
the most reliable means of communications during disasters where voice 
calls cannot be completed due to capacity constraints. Finally, 
implementing text-to-911 represents a crucial next step in the ongoing 
transition of the legacy 911 system to a Next Generation 911 (NG911) 
system that will support not only text but will also enable consumers 
to send photos, videos, and data to PSAPs, enhancing the information 
available to first responders for assessing and responding to 
emergencies.
    5. Our proposed approach to text-to-911 is also based on the 
presumption that consumers in emergency situations should be able to 
communicate using the text applications they are most familiar with 
from everyday use. Currently, the most commonly used texting technology 
is Short Message Service (SMS), which is available, familiar, and 
widely used by virtually all wireless consumers. In the Carrier-NENA-
APCO Agreement, the four major carriers have indicated that they intend 
to use SMS-based text for their initial text-to-911 deployments, and we 
expect other initial deployments to be similarly SMS-based.
    6. At the same time, we do not propose to limit our focus to SMS-
based text. As a result of the rapid proliferation of smartphones and 
other

[[Page 1800]]

advanced mobile devices, some consumers are beginning to move away from 
SMS to other IP-based text applications, including downloadable 
software applications provided by parties other than the underlying 
carrier. To the extent that consumers gravitate to such applications as 
their primary means of communicating by text, they may reasonably come 
to expect these applications to also support text-to-911, as consumer 
familiarity is vital in emergency situations where seconds matter. 
Therefore, in this Further Notice, we seek to ensure that consumers 
ultimately have access to the same text-to-911 capabilities on the full 
array of texting applications that they use for ubiquitous 
communication--regardless of provider or platform. We also propose that 
service providers who offer SMS-based text-to-911 should have the 
flexibility to migrate their customers to other text-to-911 
applications.
    7. While our proposal is designed to accelerate the nationwide 
availability of text-to-911, we recognize that deployment will not be 
uniform, e.g., during the transition period, text-to-911 may be 
available in certain geographic areas while it is not available in 
others, or may be supported by certain carriers but not by others. This 
creates the risk of consumer confusion about the availability of text-
to-911 as the transition proceeds--indeed, there is evidence that many 
consumers erroneously believe that they can already reach 911 by text, 
and that some have attempted to do so. Rapid implementation of the 
bounce back notification mechanism that we propose in this Further 
Notice is therefore critical to informing consumers and lessening 
potential confusion about text-to-911 availability. In addition, we 
intend to begin work immediately with PSAPs, carriers, service 
providers, disability organizations, consumer groups, and others to 
educate and inform consumers regarding the transition, local 
availability, and appropriate use of text-to-911.
    8. Finally, we emphasize that even as adding text capability makes 
the 911 system more accessible and effective in enhancing public 
safety, text-to-911 is and will remain a complement to, rather than a 
substitute for, voice 911 service. The voice 911 system that has been 
maintained and improved over decades remains the preferred means of 
seeking help in an emergency in most instances. Moreover, voice 911 
service will continue to be central and essential to the 911 system 
even as we add text, photo, data, and video capabilities in the course 
of migrating to NG911. Therefore, even as we take this first major step 
in the transition to NG911, we continue to encourage all consumers 
seeking emergency help to access 911 by voice whenever possible.

II. General Background

    9. In September 2011, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (Notice) (76 FR 63257, October 12, 2011), which sought 
comment on a number of issues related to the deployment of NG911, 
including potential near-term methods for delivering text-to-911; 
whether and how to prioritize 911 in major emergencies; how to 
facilitate the long-term deployment of text-to-911; the Commission's 
role in deploying text-to-911 and other NG911 applications; consumer 
education and disclosure mechanisms; and the relationship between this 
proceeding and the implementation of the Twenty-First Century 
Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA).

A. Text-to-911 Deployments and Trials

    10. While some commenters initially expressed concerns about 
implementing near-term text-to-911, both wireless carriers and public 
safety entities have more recently taken significant steps towards the 
near-term deployment of text-to-911, including SMS-based solutions. In 
May 2012, Verizon Wireless announced plans to deploy text-to-911 
capability throughout its nationwide network in 2013. On December 10, 
2012, Verizon Wireless commenced its rollout of text-to-911 service in 
York County, Virginia. In June 2012, AT&T also announced the goal of 
launching text-to-911 nationwide in 2013. In addition, the Alliance for 
Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), an organization 
consisting of a large number of wireless and wireline carriers as well 
as equipment vendors, has formed a committee to ``create an ATIS 
standard(s) for SMS-to-9-1-1 that incorporates requirements, 
architecture, message flows, and product details.'' ATIS has targeted 
completion of these standards in the first quarter of 2013. Most 
recently, as noted above and described in further detail below, the 
four major wireless carriers, Sprint Nextel, AT&T, T-Mobile, and 
Verizon, have entered into a voluntary agreement with NENA and APCO 
whereby the major carriers will provide text-to-911 service by May 15, 
2014, to PSAPs who request the service.
    11. Some of these same wireless carriers have already initiated 
text-to-911 trials in partnership with several PSAPs to assess the 
technical feasibility of text-to-911 and its impact on PSAP operations. 
Four trials are currently under way--three of which have yielded 
positive results. First, as just announced, AT&T is ``in the process of 
launching a standards-based trial service for text-to-911 in the state 
of Tennessee * * *.'' Additionally, in June 2009, Black Hawk County, 
Iowa partnered with Intrado (a provider of 911 technology solutions) 
and i wireless (a T-Mobile affiliate that offers regional wireless 
communications service), to provide text-to-911 service within the 
county. According to Black Hawk County, there have been no delayed or 
dropped text messages in the trial, nor has there been a ``significant 
increase in incident volume.'' Indeed, callers have benefitted from the 
technology in several situations. This includes women who have been at 
risk of domestic abuse who have been able to text for help undetected 
by their assailant; children reporting instances of domestic abuse; and 
anonymous reports of imminent sales of controlled substances. Black 
Hawk County has expanded the trial and now receives text messages from 
individuals throughout the state, which it then relays to the 
appropriate PSAP. According to Black Hawk County, the trial 
demonstrates that text-to-911 service ``is reliable and * * * saves 
lives.''
    12. In August 2011, the City of Durham, North Carolina (Durham) 
initiated an SMS-to-911 trial in partnership with Verizon Wireless and 
Intrado. According to Durham, the technology has worked reliably. 
Durham's trial suggests that callers will continue to rely on voice 
calls to 911 and that concerns about text messages overwhelming PSAPs 
may be unfounded. Durham views the technology as a ``valuable asset'' 
and the North Carolina Director of the Division of Services for the 
Deaf and the Hard of Hearing stated that ``the significance of the 
program cannot be overstated.'' More recently, the trial was extended 
``to accommodate Durham's additional outreach to individuals with 
disabilities.''
    13. In April 2012, the State of Vermont (Vermont) initiated a text-
to-911 trial allowing any Verizon Wireless subscriber to send emergency 
text messages to the Williston, Vermont PSAP, provided that the text 
message is transmitted via a cell tower located within the physical 
boundaries of Vermont. The Executive Director of the Vermont E911 Board 
stated that implementing the trial ``wasn't * * * difficult at all'' 
and that so far, the trial has proceeded ``very smoothly.'' Vermont 
believes that fears over the volume of emergency text messages are

[[Page 1801]]

``overblown'' and ``remain[s] convinced that those who can make a voice 
call will make a voice call as that is the most efficient way to 
communicate in an emergency.''
    14. Vermont further reports that as of August 2012, it had received 
only two legitimate emergency text messages, but in both cases 
emergency services were able to intervene successfully. In one case, a 
life was saved when emergency personnel were able to thwart an 
attempted suicide. In the other case, a domestic abuse victim was able 
to contact police, who then arrived on the scene and made an arrest. 
While Vermont recognizes that some parties would prefer to wait for a 
more advanced text-to-911 solution, Vermont maintains that the 
``individual whose life we saved and the domestic assault victim would 
likely disagree that it is too soon to have this technology 
available.'' Vermont also indicates it has experienced some text 
``spoofing,'' but notes that ``there is nothing about this new 
technology that is any more likely to result in `spoof' contacts than 
what we already deal with on the voice side of the system.'' 
Additionally, Vermont did not experience any problems with text slang.
    15. On October 30, 2012, Vermont submitted an ex parte filing 
indicating that it is maintaining the text-to-911 system past the end 
of its trial and is ``currently working on enabling a second Public 
Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for redundancy purposes.'' Vermont states 
that it ``can report no negative operational impacts on our system as 
the result of the Verizon trial,'' but that it needs the Commission's 
assistance in ``encouraging all of the carriers to do the right thing 
and enable text-to-9-1-1 now.'' Vermont concludes by stating that 
``[w]e understand that there are some concerns both in the PSAP and 
industry communities about the timing of SMS text-to-9-1-1, but so long 
as the most common method of texting on today's devices remains SMS, we 
feel it is important to move ahead and not wait for the promises that 
other texting solutions might provide.'' On December 3, 2012, Vermont 
announced that it would further expand its text-to-911 trial to include 
Sprint Nextel customers, in collaboration with the Vermont Enhanced 911 
Board, Sprint Wireless, and Intrado.

B. Carriers' Voluntary Commitments

    16. On December 6, 2012, APCO, NENA, Sprint Nextel, AT&T, T-Mobile, 
and Verizon, entered into a voluntary agreement whereby each of the 
four major carriers will provide text-to-911 service by May 15, 2014, 
to PSAPs who request such a service. Under the terms of the Carrier-
NENA-APCO Agreement, once a signatory carrier begins to offer text-to-
911 service, ``valid PSAP requests for Text-to-911 service will be 
implemented within a reasonable amount of time of receiving such a 
request, not to exceed six months.'' A request will be considered 
``valid'' if the ``requesting PSAP represents that it is technically 
ready to receive 911 text messages in the format requested,'' and ``the 
appropriate local or State 911 service governing authority has 
specifically authorized the PSAP to accept and, by extension, the 
signatory service provider to provide, text-to-911 service (and such 
authorization is not subject to dispute).'' Additionally, no later than 
July 1, 2013, the four major providers will ``voluntarily provide 
quarterly progress reports to the FCC, NENA, and APCO summarizing the 
status of the deployment of a national Text-to-911 service 
capability.''
    17. Under the terms of the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement, the major 
carriers have also agreed to implement a bounce-back message capability 
by June 30, 2013. The bounce back message will ``alert subscribers 
attempting to text an emergency message to instead dial 911 when text-
to-911 is unavailable in that area.''
    18. The signatories also agreed on additional measures to implement 
text-to-911 voluntarily. Specifically, the signatories agree that 
``PSAPs will select the format for how messages are to be delivered,'' 
and that ``incremental costs for delivery of text messages * * * will 
be the responsibility of the PSAP, as determined by individual 
analysis.'' Additionally, the signatory service providers agree to 
implement a 911 short code and agreed to implement text-to-911 
``independent of their ability to recover * * * associated costs from 
state or local governments.'' The signatory providers also agree to 
``work with APCO, NENA, and the FCC to establish an outreach effort to 
set and manage consumer expectations regarding the availability/
limitations of the Text-to-911 service (including when roaming) and the 
benefits of using voice calls to 911 whenever possible, and support 
APCO and NENA's effort to educate PSAPs on text-to-911 generally.''
    19. Finally, the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement limits the proposed 
voluntary text-to-911 solution ``to the capabilities of the existing 
SMS service offered by a participating wireless service provider on the 
home wireless network to which a wireless subscriber originates an SMS 
message.'' Thus, the carriers state that under the terms of their 
voluntary commitment to deploy text-to-911 capability by May 15, 2014, 
``SMS-to-911 will not be available to wireless subscribers roaming 
outside of their home wireless network,'' and ``[e]ach implementation 
of SMS-to-911 will be unique to the capabilities of each signatory 
service provider or its Gateway Service Provider.''

III. Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    20. In this Further Notice, we seek comment on issues related to 
text-to-911 in light of the evolved record, and bifurcate the comment 
cycles in order to deal most promptly with the consumer notification 
issue that has the potential to alleviate near-term consumer confusion 
as to the availability of text-to-911 both during the course of the 
voluntary roll outs that several carriers have proposed and during the 
pendency of the Commission's proceeding. Accordingly, comments with 
respect to Section III.A will be due 20 days from publication in the 
Federal Register, and reply comments on Section III.A will be due 10 
days thereafter. Comments and reply comments should address only the 
issues posed in this section in order to provide the Commission with a 
focused record on this question. Comments and reply comment on the 
remaining portion of the Further Notice will be due 60 days and 90 days 
from publication in the Federal Register, respectively. We also seek 
comment on Section III.C (Legal Authority) as relevant to each section 
in accordance with the comment timeframe for that section.

A. Automated Error Messages for Failed Text-to-911 Attempts and 
Consumer Expectations and Education

1. Automated Error Message Proposal
    21. Background. In the Notice, the Commission noted the likelihood 
that as text-to-911 is implemented, there will be instances where 
despite efforts to educate consumers, some individuals will attempt to 
send text messages to 911 in locations where text-to-911 is not 
supported. The Commission observed that this ``could put consumers at 
risk if they were unaware that an emergency text did not go through or 
were uninformed about alternative means of reaching the PSAP.'' To 
mitigate this risk, the Commission proposed that in situations where a 
consumer attempts to text 911 in a location where text-to-911 is not 
available, the consumer should receive an automatic error message or 
similar disclosure that includes

[[Page 1802]]

information on how to contact the PSAP.
    22. Public safety commenters generally support such an automatic 
notification requirement. APCO argues that ``[i]n situations where a 
consumer attempts to text 9-1-1 in an area that does not support this 
technology, a standardized auto message should be immediately returned 
indicating how to contact the PSAP and/or that a voice call is 
required. The Commission is urged to work with APCO, NENA and NASNA to 
develop best practices and model responses.'' The State of California 
similarly maintains that ``the Commission [should] require any service 
provider that provides texting capability to its customers to provide 
an immediate, automatic response (preferably standard nationwide 
message) to any text-to-911 stating that texting to 9-1-1 is not 
available and advising the customer to make a voice call to 9-1-1 in an 
emergency.''
    23. In their comments in response to the Notice, commercial mobile 
radio service (CMRS) providers acknowledge the importance of providing 
notification of non-delivery to consumers, although some commenters 
question whether the Commission should adopt a notification 
requirement. Verizon notes that it already provides an automated 
message when a wireless customer attempts to send a text message to 911 
in a location where text-to-911 is not available. Verizon states that 
its voluntary practice obviates the need for regulation, but notes that 
``[s]hould the Commission nevertheless find a requirement is necessary, 
language like Verizon's would be sufficient and appropriate.'' Sprint 
argues that before making any decision on this issue, the Commission 
should first refer the matter to standards organizations ``to review 
the technical aspects associated with delivering an error message and 
to develop a consistent error response message.'' Finally, textPlus, a 
software-based text application provider, notes that it already ``sends 
a bounce back message to users alerting the user that the 911 address 
is not recognized.''
    24. Most recently, however, the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement states 
that ``[b]efore the deployment of Text-to-911, the signatory service 
providers will implement a bounce-back (auto-reply) message to alert 
subscribers attempting to text an emergency message to instead dial 9-
1-1 when Text-to-9-1-1 is unavailable * * *'' The Agreement further 
states that these providers, the four major wireless carriers which 
include Verizon and Sprint, ``will implement the bounce-back * * * 
message by June 30, 2013.''
    25. Discussion. We propose that CMRS providers and other providers 
of text messaging services should be required to automatically notify 
consumers attempting to text-to-911 in areas where text-to-911 is not 
supported or in other instances where the text cannot be transmitted to 
the PSAP. In this respect, there appears to be a clear benefit to 
persons in emergency situations being able to know immediately if a 
text message has been delivered to the proper authorities. This 
automatic feedback may be life-saving, allowing a person in need of 
assistance to immediately seek out an alternative. Providing this type 
of error message may also be particularly critical during the 
transition to NG911, as the record to date suggests there are likely to 
be numerous instances where consumers attempt to send text messages to 
PSAPs in areas where text-to-911 is not yet available.
    26. We disagree with the assertion that there is no need for a 
bounce-back requirement because certain wireless carriers already 
voluntarily provide automatic error messages when customers attempt to 
text-to-911 in areas where it is not supported. Rather, we believe that 
all CMRS providers and other prospective text-to-911 service providers 
should implement this safeguard so that consumers have the assurance 
that they will receive automatic notification regardless of which 
provider they choose. While consumer education (as discussed below) may 
help to mitigate this risk, the possibility remains that without such a 
requirement, a consumer without knowledge of where text-to-911 is 
supported could attempt to send a text message to 911 and mistakenly 
believe that the text has been successfully transmitted to the PSAP.
    27. Moreover, in view of the four carriers' commitment in the 
Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement to implement a bounce-back message by the 
end of June 2013, a proactive approach for requiring automatic error 
messages appears to be feasible at a reasonable cost, especially in 
comparison to the public safety benefits that an automatic error 
message can provide consumers. The Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement states 
that the four major wireless carriers ``will meet [the] commitments [in 
the Agreement] independent of the [carriers] ability to recover these 
associated costs from state or local governments.'' We believe that 
this representation indicates that the costs for implementing a bounce-
back message are manageable, regardless of whether such costs are 
recoverable under current state or local cost recovery programs. 
However, we seek comment on this view, particularly in regard to the 
impact that the costs to meet the bounce-back requirement might have on 
small and rural CMRS providers compared to the public safety benefits 
for their subscribers.
    28. We seek comment on the appropriate timeframe for CMRS providers 
to implement a bounce back messaging capability. Whether or not CMRS 
providers have developed text-to-911 capability, the record to date 
appears to demonstrate that it is technically feasible for them to 
provide an automated ``bounce-back'' text message in such circumstances 
instructing the sender to make a voice 911 call, and that many carriers 
already provide this message voluntarily. We recognize that CMRS 
providers other than the four major carriers may need to address 
certain technical and operational issues in order to meet our proposed 
notification requirement. Nevertheless, we believe that a solution 
should be implemented as quickly as possible to avoid the risk of 
consumer confusion. Accordingly, we seek comment on whether it is 
feasible for all CMRS providers to provide their customers with an 
automatic notification by the June 30, 2013 date specified in the 
Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement. We seek comment on this timeframe, and any 
significant technical issues that would bear on the achievability of an 
automatic error message within that time frame by small, regional, or 
rural CMRS providers.
    29. We also propose to require prospective providers of 
interconnected text service to develop an automated error message 
capability. In order to reduce potential consumer confusion and enhance 
the ability of consumers to communicate by text in emergencies using 
the applications they are most familiar with from everyday use, we 
believe that the ``bounce-back'' requirement proposed for CMRS 
providers above should also apply, to the extent feasible, to all 
providers of software applications that enable a consumer to send text 
messages to text-capable U.S. mobile telephone numbers and receive text 
messages from the same when a user of the application attempts to send 
an emergency text in an area where text-to-911 is not supported or the 
provider is otherwise unable to transmit the text to the PSAP.
    30. We clarify that we do not propose to extend text-to-911 
obligations to IP-based messaging applications that support 
communication with a defined set of users of compatible applications 
but do not support general communication with text-capable

[[Page 1803]]

telephone numbers. We believe it is less likely that consumers will 
expect such applications to support emergency communications. 
Nevertheless, we encourage providers of such messaging applications to 
inform their users that these applications do not support communication 
to 911. We seek comment on this approach. Are there other ``flavors'' 
of third-party text messaging applications that should not be included? 
Why?
    31. We seek comment on the feasibility and cost of third-party 
providers to implement such an automatic notification and whether they 
must address any unique technical issues not faced by CMRS providers in 
executing this requirement. We also seek comment on whether it is 
feasible timeframe for third-party providers to implement the automatic 
notification requirement by June 30, 2013, or whether we should adopt a 
longer timetable.
    32. We clarify that with respect to both CMRS providers and 
interconnected text providers, our proposed requirement for automatic 
notification to consumers would only apply to situations where the 
provider (or the provider's text-to-911 vendor) has direct control over 
the transmission of the text message and is unable to transmit the text 
message to the PSAP serving the texting party's location, whether due 
to network congestion, the inability of the PSAP to accept such 
messages, or otherwise. Thus, for example, a CMRS provider would not be 
required to provide automatic notification where the consumer uses a 
text application provided by a third party that the carrier does not 
control. Similarly, notification would not be required where the 
provider is able to transmit the text to the PSAP, but a failure in the 
PSAP network results in the text not being delivered to a 911 operator. 
We seek comment on our proposal. We also clarify that we do not propose 
to require all text-to-911 providers to use the exact same wording for 
their automatic error messages to consumers. Rather, we propose that 
providers would be deemed to have met our requirement so long as the 
error message includes information on how to contact the PSAP. For 
example, an automated message that advises the consumer to place a 
voice call to 911 would meet the proposed requirement. We would, 
however, encourage carriers to work with public safety organizations 
and consumer organizations, including disability organizations, on a 
common error message text to simplify consumer education. We seek 
comment on this approach.
2. Consumer Expectations and Education
    33. Background. The Notice sought comment on how to ensure that 
consumers are informed about the availability and non-availability of 
text-to-911 in specific areas. Specifically, the Notice sought comment 
on the expected costs and benefits of various approaches to consumer 
education and disclosure mechanisms, whether contractual or cost 
considerations would deter consumers from texting or sending photos or 
video to 911, and if so, whether providers or the Commission should 
develop practices to remedy that situation. It also sought comment on 
what types of educational programs could be created to reduce and/or 
prevent consumer confusion as text-to-911 is deployed in the short 
term, what the appropriate role is for the Commission and for other 
government and private sector entities in any public education effort, 
and whether other resources could be developed to help individuals 
learn about where text-to-911 services are and are not available.
    34. Public safety commenters generally agree that there is a 
significant need for a nationwide effort to educate the public and 
prevent consumer confusion while text-to-911 is being rolled out. For 
example, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) 
conducted a recent survey which noted that approximately one-third of 
their population believe they can text 9-1-1 today. APCO argues that 
``NG9-1-1 and the capabilities for data and multimedia will require a 
focused and funded public education plan. Consumers must be made aware 
of the limitations of 9-1-1 location accuracy and they must be 
cognizant of the role that they need to play in `managing their 
emergency.' '' APCO urges the public and private sector to ``unite to 
provide a national campaign targeted at public education of NG 9-1-1 as 
it becomes available,'' and offers to help ``craft and disseminate an 
agreed upon curriculum.'' NASNA supports focusing educational efforts 
on ``discrete groups that would receive substantial and meaningful 
benefits'' from near-term deployment of text-to-911, ``such as the deaf 
and hard of hearing.'' NASNA suggests these focused educational efforts 
``could provide a model when texting-to-9-1-1 is deployed on a 
permanent basis.'' NENA ``encourages the Commission'' to implement a 
campaign to ``provid[e] states, regions, and localities with template 
materials such as canned video, audio, and print materials'' that 
``could provide enormous economies of scale * * * and help local 9-1-1 
systems and centers to effectively educate the public about the roll-
out of new system capabilities.'' NENA also contends that ``it is 
imperative that any text-to-9-1-1 solution that relies on a digit 
string or short code incorporate the digits `9-1-1' '' because 
``[d]oing so will help to minimize consumer confusion and reduce public 
education costs.''
    35. Industry commenters also stress the importance of consumer 
education and the need for both public and private sector participation 
in education efforts. CTIA stresses that ``consumer education requires 
that federal and state entities, as well as Public Safety agencies and 
consumer representatives, participate in the consumer education 
process, and that the responsibility not be left solely to the wireless 
industry.'' CTIA also supports the concept presented in the Notice of 
developing a consumer-focused map or Web site that would provide 
information on the text-capability of specific PSAPs, but notes that 
``the cost of developing and updating such resources is an issue that 
should be considered in developing a map or similar consumer education 
campaign.''
    36. Discussion. We agree with commenters that educating the public 
is critical to the successful roll-out of text-to-911 and preventing 
consumer confusion. Adding text capability to the 911 system is not 
likely to occur uniformly: during the transition period, the 
availability of text-to-911 will vary by area, and the areas of 
availability will change over time as the transition progresses. The 
Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement recognized this and the signatory providers 
agreed to ``work with APCO, NENA, and the FCC to develop an outreach 
effort to set and manage consumer expectations regarding the 
availability/limitations of the Text-to-911 service (including when 
roaming) and the benefits of using voice calls to 911 whenever 
possible, and support APCO and NENA's effort to educate PSAPs on Text-
to-911 generally.'' Therefore, as we initiate the transition, a 
concerted effort will be needed to provide the public with accurate and 
up-to-date information regarding where text-to-911 is--and is not--
available.
    37. Aside from educating the public about the availability or 
unavailability of text-to-911, education is also imperative to inform 
the public about the capabilities and limitations of text-to-911 where 
it is available, and the circumstances under which texting 911 is or is 
not preferable to making a 911 voice call. The public needs to be aware 
that text may not provide all of the

[[Page 1804]]

features and functionalities associated with voice 911 service, such as 
automatic location. Similarly, the public needs to be aware that, while 
sending an emergency text may be preferred in instances where the 
sender is unable to communicate by voice (e.g., due to a speech or 
hearing disability, or in a hostage or abuse situation where voice 
calling could be dangerous to the caller), in most other instances, 
placing a voice call to 911 will continue to be the most effective 
means of communicating with emergency responders, and therefore will 
remain the strongly preferable option even where text is available.
    38. Given the clear need for consumer education, we direct the 
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and the Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau to implement a comprehensive consumer 
education program concerning text-to-911, and to coordinate their 
efforts with state and local 911 authorities, other federal and state 
agencies, public safety organizations, industry, disability 
organizations, and consumer groups, consistent with those voluntary 
measures taken under the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement. To assist in the 
development of this program, we seek comment on what educational tools 
and resources exist or need to be developed to combat consumer 
confusion as text-to-911 is deployed. To what degree can current 911 
educational programs be adapted to help consumers understand the 
availability, capability, and appropriate use of text-to-911? How do we 
ensure that education and outreach efforts on text-to-911 are fully 
accessible to people with disabilities? Are there lessons that we can 
draw from educational efforts that were conducted during the deployment 
of basic 911 or E911 service? Have other countries developed text-to-
911 education programs?
    39. We also seek comment on whether CMRS and interconnected text 
providers should provide educational information to their subscribers 
about the availability and use of text-to-911. The signatory providers 
in the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement agreed to work with APCO, NENA and 
the Commission to develop an outreach effort to ``set and manage 
consumer expectations'' regarding text-to-911. Should carriers also 
provide information regarding the text-to-911 capabilities of specific 
wireless devices that operate on their networks?
    40. Would it be feasible to provide consumers with the ability to 
test text-to-911 functionality in their devices? Allowing customers to 
send simulated or test 911 messages could have benefits by enabling 
customers to verify the availability of text-to-911 and familiarize 
themselves with its use. However, any test mechanism would need to be 
configured to avoid burdening PSAPs with unnecessary text messages, 
e.g., by having the carrier or 911 text services provider reply to test 
messages with an automated response. We seek comment on technical and 
cost issues associated with developing such a test capability.
    41. Who should bear the primary responsibility for educating 
consumers on the limits of text-to-911? The Commission? CMRS and 
interconnected text providers? Public safety organizations? Should the 
Commission establish a joint effort in conjunction with CMRS and 
interconnected text providers and public safety to implement an 
education effort? To what extent should consumer groups, including 
organizations representing the interests of people with disabilities, 
be included in such efforts? Should the educational effort be federal, 
regional, state, or local-level? What safeguards and measures should be 
taken to ensure that education and outreach efforts on text-to-911 and 
its limitations are fully accessible to people with disabilities? Can 
the ability to send test text messages to a PSAP facilitate consumer 
education? Could the database described in Bandwidth.com's comments be 
used to automatically generate up-to-date consumer-facing maps of where 
text-to-911 is available?

B. Comprehensive Text-to-911 Proposals

1. Further Background
    42. The Commission has previously highlighted the popularity and 
ubiquity of text messaging, the increasing public expectation that 
consumers should be able to text to 911 during an emergency, and the 
importance of text to 911 for people with disabilities. American 
consumers send billions of SMS text messages per day and more than two-
thirds of mobile phone users have used text messaging. Moreover, many 
of these consumers are acquiring advanced mobile devices (e.g., 3G and 
4G devices) that enable them to send text messages using ``over-the-
top'' software applications that they install on their phones and other 
mobile devices. Additionally, text messaging will likely play an 
integral role in providing future 911 services for persons with 
communications disabilities. Hence, any discussion about the near-term 
deployment of text-to-911 must consider both SMS and currently 
available, as well as anticipated, software applications as potential 
platforms.
    43. The record in response to the Notice indicates that NG911 will 
eventually be capable of supporting the full range of possible 
multimedia-to-911 communications, including transmission of text, 
photos, video, and data. However, due to the complexity and cost of 
deploying NG911 infrastructure on a national scale, full deployment of 
NG911 will not be uniform and will likely take years. At the same time, 
the record indicates that it is technically feasible for CMRS providers 
to implement text-to-911 using existing technologies prior to full 
deployment of NG911, as evidenced by the successful trials and 
demonstrations noted above, the University of Colorado and Intrado 
technical studies, and the fact that the four largest nationwide 
wireless carriers committed to deploy text-to-911 capability throughout 
their networks by May 15, 2014. Thus, text-to-911 could be made 
available to virtually all wireless customers in the near term and 
delivered to both ``NG-capable'' and ``pre-NG'' PSAPs at a reasonable 
cost to wireless carriers.
    44. As discussed below, we believe that enabling consumers to send 
a text message to 911 in the near term will substantially improve 
accessibility to emergency services, particularly for people with 
hearing and speech disabilities. While we recognize that text-to-911 
based on pre-NG technologies does not provide the full functionality of 
NG911-based text, and that it has certain limitations in comparison to 
voice-based 911, we believe that these limitations are outweighed by 
the substantial public safety benefits that near-term implementation of 
text-to-911 would yield. In addition, implementing text-to-911 in the 
near term will provide valuable real-world operational experience that 
will help consumers, PSAPs and service providers plan for full NG911 
deployment. Moreover, the availability of text-to-911 will provide 
incentives for PSAPs to acquire Internet Protocol (IP) connectivity and 
NG911-capable customer premise equipment (CPE), which are both critical 
steps towards the full deployment of NG-911. We seek comment on these 
observations.
    45. We also believe that adopting a mandatory regulatory framework 
and timetable for implementation of text-to-911 is necessary. We 
recognize that substantial progress has been achieved through the 
voluntary initiatives of the four major CMRS providers, 911 service 
providers, and PSAPs described above. However, we are concerned that 
continuing to rely solely on voluntary measures could result in the 
four major

[[Page 1805]]

CMRS providers implementing text-to-911 while other service providers--
including regional, small, and rural CMRS providers and third party 
interconnected text providers--do not, or could lead to non-uniform and 
uncoordinated implementation, inconsistent technological approaches, 
and widely varying implementation timelines to the detriment of 
consumers. This in turn could lead to a longer transition period, 
increased transition costs, and increased consumer confusion regarding 
when and where text-to-911 will be supported, what functionality it 
will provide, and when and how consumers should use it where it is 
available. We seek comment on this analysis.
    46. Public safety commenters made a number of ex parte submissions 
in the record highlighting the importance of deploying text-to-911 
services. NENA conducted a comprehensive study and reported that the 
majority of its chapters would support a requirement for wireless 
carriers to provide text-to-911 services to their customers. APCO 
argued that ``deferring action on the basic [text-to-911] requirement 
would only lead to uncertainty and delay serious consideration of 
implementation issues and requirements.'' NCTCOG submitted an ex parte 
noting that the public expects to be able text-to-911 and highlighted 
that ``a recent market study * * * showed that approximately \1/3\ of 
our population believe they can text 9-1-1 today.'' The Maine Public 
Utilities Commission noted that ``increasingly [persons with 
disabilities are] abandoning the use of TTYs for new technologies such 
as text messaging that allow them more flexibility to communicate with 
most others except 9-1-1.''
    47. We believe that a mandatory regulatory framework that builds on 
existing voluntary initiatives will mitigate these risks by providing a 
common deadline for the implementation of text-to-911. Moreover, while 
under our proposal PSAPs will still have the option to choose whether 
to accept text messages, greater uniformity in availability will 
enhance PSAP options and make it easier to justify investments in 
upgrades. Uniformity will also promote coordinated and consistent 
deployment by establishing a set of baseline requirements for all CMRS 
providers and third-party interconnected text providers to meet. 
Finally, it will provide greater certainty to consumers regarding text-
to-911 availability, functions, and usage. Given the these substantial 
benefits, we believe that the public interest is served by requiring 
CMRS providers and third-party interconnected text providers to supply 
text-to-911 capabilities to their customers on all text-capable 
devices. We seek comment on this analysis and on possible timelines and 
technical options for implementation of these proposed requirements.
2. Public Safety Benefits of Text-to-911
    48. The record indicates that text-to-911 can offer significant 
public safety benefits, most notably: (1) Widespread consumer 
availability and ease of use, (2) enhanced accessibility to 911 for 
people with hearing and speech disabilities, and (3) an alternative 
means of emergency communication for the general public when 911 voice 
service is unavailable or when voice calling could endanger the caller. 
We note that text-to-911 service may also permit ``text-takers'' to 
open multiple texts and prioritize the most life-threatening situations 
first, rather than waiting to address calls based simply on the order 
in which they arrived.
a. Availability and Ease of Use
    49. The effectiveness of the legacy voice 911 system derives in 
large part from its ease of use by consumers, and their familiarity and 
comfort with voice calling on everyday devices. It is much easier for 
people faced with the stress of emergency situations to communicate 
quickly and effectively when they are able to use the same technologies 
that they use for everyday communications. This principle, which has 
long applied to voice calling, is increasingly true for communication 
by text as well. More than 2 trillion text messages are sent annually 
and according to the Pew Center, more than 7 out of 10 cell phone users 
send or receive text messages. Another report suggests that 91 percent 
of smartphone owners actively use SMS. Thus, expanding existing text 
technology to support 911 will provide the public with a familiar mode 
of communication for emergency use.
b. Enhanced Accessibility for People With Disabilities
    50. Currently, approximately 15 percent of the United States 
population, or 34.5 million people, have hearing disabilities and 
approximately 7.5 million people have difficulty using their voices. 
Moreover, there is a strong relationship between age and reported 
hearing loss. For example, 18 percent of American adults 45-64 years 
old have a hearing loss, 30 percent of adults 65-74 years old have a 
hearing loss, and 47 percent of adults 75 years old or older have a 
hearing loss. By 2030, 20 percent of the population will be over 65 
years old, substantially increasing the number of Americans who may 
need alternatives to voice communications when accessing 911. Further, 
an increasing number of soldiers are returning from overseas and are 
experiencing traumatic brain injury, which can result in hearing or 
speech disabilities.
    51. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted 
in 1990 requires PSAPs to provide persons with hearing or speech 
disabilities with direct access to 911 emergency services. Since 1991, 
the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has implemented this provision by 
requiring all public safety agencies to make their telephone emergency 
services directly accessible to TTYs. In the Notice, however, the 
Commission explained that people with hearing and speech disabilities 
have increasingly migrated away from specialized legacy devices, such 
as TTYs, and towards more widely available forms of text communications 
because of the ease of access, availability, and practicability of 
modern text-capable communications devices. While the migration to 
widely available texting technologies has had the unique benefit of 
bringing prior TTY users into the mainstream of our nation's 
communications systems, this transition has also led some commenters to 
suggest that it leaves people with hearing and speech disabilities 
without an effective, reliable and direct means of accessing 911 
services in the event of an emergency.
    52. The EAAC noted that individuals who cannot hear or speak well 
enough to communicate with 911 currently have no direct means of 
accessing 911 when mobile other than TTYs. However, with the vast 
majority of people with hearing and speech disabilities having 
discarded their TTYs, these devices are no longer considered a viable 
means of directly accessing 911 for this population. Nevertheless, the 
EAAC found that many individuals who are deaf have service plans that 
include SMS. One ``key finding'' of the EAAC is that ``individuals with 
disabilities should be able to call 9-1-1 using the same means they use 
for everyday telecommunication.''
    53. At present, individuals with disabilities who have stopped 
using TTYs often have no other option but to rely on telecommunications 
relay services (TRS) to access 911 emergency services. Text-based relay 
services generally require an emergency call to first go to a 
communications assistant (CA), who places the call to the PSAP. The CA 
then relays the conversation back and forth between the caller and

[[Page 1806]]

the PSAP, by voicing all text that is typed by the person with a 
disability to the PSAP call taker and typing back responses to the 
caller. As such, many have criticized TRS as providing only an indirect 
means of conveying information that may result in delays and 
translation errors during an emergency. For example, Consumer Groups 
note that IP-Relay, one text form of TRS, has not been widely embraced 
by the deaf and hard of hearing community for requesting emergency 
services because of the relatively long length of time it takes to 
reach a relay operator and then get to the correct PSAP, the fact that 
the call will generally arrive on a non-emergency line, and the 
possibility of mistakes by the CA in the relaying of the call.
    54. The record in this proceeding and the EAAC Report make clear 
that a significant number of people with hearing and speech 
disabilities will benefit from the ability to directly send a text 
message to 911 from any device that is text-capable. Advocates for and 
individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing strongly support 
implementation of a near-term text-to-911 solution and disfavor text 
relay approaches due to the risk of delay and translation errors. 
Moreover, enabling direct text messaging to 911 by people with hearing 
and speech disabilities will allow this population to use mass market 
communication devices that have increasingly evolving capabilities. 
While disability advocates have previously been skeptical of SMS-to-911 
because it does not support real-time text, they have given more recent 
support to SMS as a viable near-term solution because of its 
familiarity and ease of use for people with disabilities. Respondents 
to the EAAC survey expressed a clear preference for calling a PSAP 
using the same technology that they use on a daily basis. Moreover, 
87.7 percent of respondents reported having used SMS text messaging and 
46.1 percent reported having used SMS text messaging ``almost every 
day.''
    55. Consumer Groups similarly urge the Commission to require the 
deployment of SMS-to-911 technologies in the near term as a rapid and 
practical means of significantly enhancing accessibility to the 911 
system for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. Consumer Groups 
point out that because consumers have already embraced SMS technology, 
and the vast majority of wireless providers and manufacturers support 
SMS, this capability may be deployed rather quickly. Likewise, the 
Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) ``strongly 
supports'' the incorporation of SMS for the initial deployment of an NG 
911 system. Similarly, the RERC on Telecommunications Access notes that 
it is imperative for the Commission to ensure that mobile text 
communication is available in the near term to people who are deaf.
c. Alternative Means of Emergency Communication for the General Public
    56. The ability to send text messages to 911 will also provide an 
important alternative means of emergency communication to the benefit 
of the general public. While the general public will not need to use 
text-to-911 services as frequently as people with hearing and speech 
disabilities, experience has shown that there are situations where 
being able to send a text message to 911 as opposed to placing a voice 
call could be vital to the caller's safety. For example, in the 2007 
shooting incident at Virginia Tech, a number of students attempted 
unsuccessfully to send SMS text messages to 911 so as not to be heard 
and located by the shooter. Similarly, in the Black Hawk County, Iowa 
text-to-911 trial, text has been used in domestic and child abuse 
situations in which the victim feared that the suspect would overhear 
the call to 911. Additionally, the Vermont trial further demonstrated 
text-to-911's efficacy in cases involving suicide and domestic 
violence.
    57. Text-to-911 can also provide a lifeline when voice networks are 
impaired or congested. In large-scale disasters, for example, circuit-
switched landline and mobile networks may become overloaded, making it 
difficult to place a 911 voice call. Conversely, SMS and IP-based text 
messages to 911 can still be transmitted because text consumes far less 
bandwidth than voice and may use different spectrum resources and 
traffic channels. As TCS notes, ``[i]n situations in which a high 9-1-1 
call volume results in blocked calls to the PSAP or situations in which 
the wireless infrastructure capacity is impacted such that placing 
voice calls is difficult or impossible, SMS communications to a PSAP 
may provide the only reasonable communications method to emergency 
services.'' TCS further notes that according to data it had drawn from 
its CMRS provider customers, attempts to text-to-911 are made regularly 
and the number of attempts to text-to-911 during the recent Hurricane 
Sandy spiked sharply. TCS also highlights that unlike phone calls that 
are be handled on a ``first-in, first-addressed'' basis without any 
ability to know which queued up calls are priorities, a single ``text-
taker'' could open more than one text and ``attempt to address the more 
urgent and life-threatening emergencies with greater priority.'' In 
addition, the University of Colorado finds that ``text users and call 
takers compose and read messages offline and only use communication for 
the moment that the message needs to be sent [which] saves valuable 
network resources during network congestion.'' Thus, people in disaster 
areas may still be able to send text messages to 911 even if they 
cannot place a voice call.
3. Technical Feasibility, Timing and Cost of Text to 911
    58. Balanced against the above-described benefits of text-to-911, 
we believe that the record indicates that text-to-911 is technically 
feasible and can be achieved in the near term at a reasonable cost to 
PSAPs, CMRS providers, and providers of interconnected text. We 
disagree with commenters who argue that the Commission should not act 
until NG911 is fully deployed. As we note above, it will likely take a 
number of years to deploy NG911 on a national scale. The record also 
indicates that it is technically feasible for CMRS providers to 
implement a text-to-911 solution using existing technologies prior to 
the full deployment of NG911, and we believe the same should be true 
for interconnected text providers. Thus, text-to-911 could be made 
available to virtually all wireless customers in the near-term and 
delivered to both ``NG-capable'' and ``pre-NG'' PSAPs at a reasonable 
cost to wireless carriers. In this respect, we also believe that 
investments made now by PSAPs and carriers to support text-to-911 can 
be leveraged to support NG911 deployments, and accordingly constitute 
building blocks towards an IP-based emergency network. For example, 
while some PSAPs may choose to implement text-to-911 through existing 
equipment, such as TTY terminals, other PSAPs may choose to upgrade 
their equipment to receive text messages in a manner that will also 
support additional data in an NG911 environment.
    59. We disagree with MetroPCS's argument that any text-to-911 
obligations should ``only be imposed on the largest nationwide carriers 
because the costs of increased regulations are more easily borne by the 
largest carriers.'' There is no evidence that the cost of implementing 
a text-to-911 solution will be substantial enough to warrant limiting 
the obligation to the largest carriers. In fact, the first text-to-911 
trial in the nation was conducted in Black Hawk County, Iowa by a small

[[Page 1807]]

wireless carrier. Further, we believe that exempting certain wireless 
carriers from a text-to-911 obligation solely on the basis of size 
would create additional consumer confusion, because consumers would 
still be unsure of whether their wireless carrier provides text-to-911 
service or not. We seek comment on these views.
    60. Based on these findings and consistent with the Carrier-NENA-
APCO Agreement, we propose that all CMRS providers and interconnected 
text providers should be required to implement the capability to 
support text-to-911 in their networks. Because SMS is the most common 
texting technology in use today, and virtually all wireless consumers 
already have access to it and are familiar with its use, we expect that 
most CMRS providers will initially support SMS-based text-to-911. At 
the same time, we recognize that CMRS providers may eventually seek to 
migrate customers away from SMS to other text applications, such as IP-
based real-time text or Rich Communication Services (RCS). Therefore, 
we do not propose to require CMRS providers to support SMS-based text-
to-911 so long as they provide their customers with at least one pre-
installed text-to-911 option per device model that works across the 
provider's entire network coverage area. We propose to allow CMRS 
providers to select any reliable method or methods (e.g., mobile-
switched, IP-based) for text routing and delivery. We seek comment on 
this proposal.
a. Impact on PSAPs
    61. As noted above, public safety commenters generally support the 
implementation of text-to-911 in the near term as a first step in the 
transition to NG911. NENA notes that SMS is ``the prevailing consumer 
text mode in the United States,'' and that in addition to being the 
most widely available platform, SMS ``is also the most interoperable, 
working between nearly every device on every network in the United 
States.'' NENA also notes that Verizon's text-to-911 announcement 
indicates that ``SMS-to-911 capabilities can be technically feasible.'' 
NATOA, NACo, and NLC state that they support the use of SMS as ``an 
interim solution for text-based communication to 911,'' since it is 
``particularly beneficial to people with disabilities, including people 
who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech impediments.''
    62. Black Hawk County highlights that it has not encountered any 
text-related problems during its trial and notes that ``SMS text-to-911 
is reliable and available, as clearly demonstrated in our project.'' 
BRETSA and the Colorado 9-1-1 Task Force state that ``the key advantage 
of text messaging to 9-1-1 will be in facilitating communications with 
the PSAP by speech and/or hearing impaired individuals. Text messaging 
is generally preferred by the speech and hearing impaired community 
over TTY communications because it is more portable, ubiquitous, and 
convenient.'' Vermont argues that fears over the volume of emergency 
text messages are ``overblown'' and ``remain[s] convinced that those 
who can make a voice call will make a voice call as that is the most 
efficient way to communicate in an emergency.''
    63. While public safety entities generally regard near-term text-
to-911 as feasible, some express concern about the potential cost of 
implementation and the impact on PSAP resources if text-to-911 results 
in a heavy influx of text messages. The State of California states that 
``[s]hort-term implementation of text-to-911 will likely increase the 
time and resources required for PSAPs to process information as 
compared to handling voice calls.'' APCO states that ``[w]hile SMS may 
be appropriate as a near-term solution for limited circumstances, it is 
not a long-term solution for the general public.'' NASNA opposes 
encouraging wide-spread deployment of short-term SMS-based solutions 
``[u]ntil such time as text-delivery standards are developed, adopted 
and compliance is assured.'' Finally, BRETSA and the Colorado 911 Task 
Force argue that ``devoting funds to an interim solution for text 
messaging may mean that less funds will be available in the future for 
a more effective solution, once NG9-1-1 has been deployed and PSAP 
systems updated to take advantage of NG9-1-1.''
    64. Based on the record in this proceeding, the Carrier-NENA-APCO 
Agreement, and the success of the various technology trials noted 
above, we believe that the implementation of text-to-911 will not 
impose an undue burden on PSAP operations. First, under our proposed 
framework, PSAPs will retain the discretion to decide whether to accept 
text messages. Thus, if a PSAP chooses not to accept text messages, 
there would be no requirement for it to do so and therefore no cost to 
the PSAP. We believe that PSAPs are able to best understand their local 
technological and financial situation, and determine whether it is 
technically and financially feasible or desirable to implement text-to-
911 in their service area. While we share BRETSA and the Colorado 911 
Task Force's funding concerns, we believe that PSAPs will be in the 
best position to understand their ongoing NG911 funding needs. 
Additionally, as much of the architecture for text-to-911 service can 
be leveraged for NG911, we do not expect that funding text-to-911 will 
divert resources from funding future NG911 services. Second, as 
discussed in greater below, for PSAPs that elect to accept text 
messages, we propose several options for the receipt of text messages, 
including options that will impose minimal costs on the PSAP. Third, 
while we recognize that the technology trials noted above are limited 
in scope, the trial results suggest that PSAPs are not likely to become 
overwhelmed with text messages.
b. Impact on CMRS Providers and Interconnected Text Providers
    65. In response to the Notice, CMRS commenters initially opposed a 
near-term text-to-911 mandate and argued that the Commission should 
instead focus its efforts on long-term NG911 solutions. These 
commenters cited a variety of concerns with implementing text-to-911 
prior to the full development of next-generation solutions, including 
technical limitations, limited monetary resources, reliability and 
security, issues with consumer education, and liability protection. 
Notwithstanding some of these concerns, however, the four major 
wireless carriers voluntarily committed to deploy text-to-911 
capability throughout their nationwide networks by May 15, 2014.
    66. Further, the record indicates that the cost for CMRS providers 
to implement a text-to-911 solution will be minimal. Indeed, according 
to cost estimates that were submitted into the record by Intrado and 
Bandwidth.com, the total cost for all CMRS providers to implement this 
solution will be approximately $4 million annually. Based on our review 
of the record, the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement, the cost estimates 
provided by vendors, and the success of the text-to-911 trials and 
demonstrations, we believe that it is feasible for all CMRS providers 
to cost-effectively implement a text-to-911 solution in the near term. 
We seek comment on this view. We also seek comment below on the 
appropriate timetable for implementing our proposal in order to address 
the concerns raised by CMRS commenters. We also seek comment on the 
cost for interconnected text providers to implement a text-to-911 
solution. More specifically, what are the likely initial and ongoing 
costs for interconnected text providers? For routing purposes, can 
interconnected text providers use the same service providers as CMRS 
providers? If so, would the cost be similar? Would a per-incident 
service model be feasible for

[[Page 1808]]

smaller interconnected text providers? Are there any other potential 
costs that the Commission should consider? To that end, we seek 
quantitative information for our cost-benefit analysis.
4. Cost-Benefit Case Study
    67. States and localities collect approximately $2 billion in 911 
fees and taxes annually for the operation and support of the legacy 
voice-based 911 system. Most states have reported to the Commission 
that ``they used the fees or surcharges that they collected for 911/
E911 service solely to fund the provision of 911/E911 service.'' 
Dependent on the regulatory mechanism set forth in each statute, states 
distribute funding either to the carriers directly, or to a designated 
state or local entity which then reimburses carriers. As we have noted 
previously, the highest vendor estimate submitted in this record 
regarding the cost to carriers to implement nationwide text-to-911 
capability is $4 million annually, a mere fraction of the cost of the 
current voice 911 system.
    68. Balanced against this low cost, the implementation of text-to-
911 will provide substantial benefits both for people with disabilities 
and the general public in a variety of scenarios. While not all of the 
benefits associated with these scenarios are quantifiable, we have 
conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the potential impact of text-to-
911 in the area of cardiac emergencies--a category that represents less 
than 10 percent of 911 calls but for which detailed statistical 
information is available. Even when we limit our analysis of benefits 
to this subset of total emergencies, we find that the potential 
benefits of text-to-911 for just this one category of 911 calls 
outweighs the costs of implementing text-to-911 for all carriers and 
PSAPs. We seek comment on our case study analysis below.
    69. Our analysis is based on a 2002 study of cardiac emergencies in 
Pennsylvania that found adoption of E911 to be associated with 
improvements in the health status of patients, particularly those with 
cardiac conditions. That Cardiac Study shows that, when precise 
location information is provided contemporaneously with a 911 call, 
response time is notably shortened and correlated with an over 34 
percent reduction in mortality rates from cardiac arrest within the 
first 48 hours following the incident.
    70. The life-saving benefits demonstrated in the Cardiac Study 
provide a useful reference point for assessing the importance of timely 
and effective 911 communication to response time and positive outcomes 
for medical emergencies. We therefore have extrapolated from the 
Cardiac Study to determine the likely number of cases in which text-to-
911 might extend similar benefits to people with hearing and speech 
disabilities who cannot use voice to contact 911, but who would be able 
to communicate location information if text were available.
    71. Based on the Cardiac Study, we calculate that for the voice-
based 911 system as a whole, improved response time resulting from 
delivery of precise location information saves approximately 4,142 
lives annually nationwide. To determine the proportionate benefit for 
people with disabilities that would result from availability of text-
to-911, we consider only the 0.7 percent of the population with the 
most severe hearing and speech impairments (0.5 percent for extreme 
hearing difficulty and 0.2 percent for extreme speech difficulty). 
Assuming a proportional number of 911 calls in cardiac emergencies from 
this population, and limiting our calculation to intentional wireless 
calls in which the hearing- or speech-disabled person cannot rely on a 
speaking person to make the 911 call, we calculate that text-to-911 
would save approximately 7 lives annually in cardiac emergencies. Using 
an accepted statistical value-of-life model developed by the U.S. 
Department of Transportation, we estimate the value of each life saved 
to be $6.2 million. This yields a total benefit of $43.4 million 
annually for cardiac victims alone, or more than ten times the highest 
estimated cost of the rules proposed herein.
    72. We emphasize that the benefits calculated above for cardiac 
emergencies represent only a subset of the benefits that will be 
generated by text-to-911. The record reflects numerous other benefits 
that are less quantifiable but that may be similarly or even more 
substantial. Black Hawk County and Vermont have cited concrete examples 
where text-to-911 enabled callers to reach 911, but could not make a 
voice call for safety reasons. Similarly, the record includes 
additional compelling evidence that text-to-9-1-1 may provide 
significant benefits in disaster scenarios due to the relatively high 
reliability of SMS messages and the relatively low amount of network 
capacity required to deliver an SMS message. These benefits, though not 
specifically quantifiable, provide compelling evidence that the 
aggregate benefits of text-to-911 will significantly exceed the 
specific benefits quantified here--and will be generated at no 
additional cost.
5. Reliability of Text-to-911
    73. In response to the Notice, several commenters raise concerns 
about the reliability of text-to-911, and particularly SMS-based text. 
4G Americas notes that ``it found no short-term solution that did not 
exhibit limitations with respect to capability, performance, and 
impacts to users, network operators and/or PSAPs.'' CTIA states that 
``SMS was not designed to be used as an emergency service'' and urges 
the Commission to focus on the deployment of ``advanced 9-1-1 emergency 
communications services in emerging wireless technologies.'' Other 
commenters similarly assert that certain technical aspects of SMS limit 
its reliability for emergency communications. Among the factors cited 
are that SMS (1) is one-way rather than session-based; (2) lacks 
delivery or performance guarantees, and may not inform the sender when 
a text is not timely delivered; (3) does not prioritize emergency 
messages; (4) does not assure that multiple messages will arrive in the 
sequence they were sent; (5) does not support 911 location technologies 
that are used for 911 voice calls; and (6) lacks protections against 
transmission of spurious or fraudulent 911 messages.
    74. Technical Studies. In response to the Notice, two commenters 
conducted technical studies which present evidence that SMS-to-911 is 
as reliable as voice, and in some instances, may be even more reliable 
than voice. In the first study, researchers at the University of 
Colorado tracked several hundred SMS text messages and found that ``the 
reliability of text messages and mobile phone voice calls, in terms of 
data loss, are very similar.'' The University of Colorado study ``found 
that all of the text messages sent were received by the cellular 
network, resulting in a `data loss rate' of 0% and a reliability level 
of 100%.'' In addition, the University of Colorado study noted that 
``[o]ther researchers have tested the reliability of * * * SMS * * * 
and found that the `data loss rate' over several thousand messages was 
less than 1%, resulting in a reliability level of 99%. The statistical 
implication is that large samples might experience a small percentage 
of data loss, but overall the reliability for text messages is similar 
to that of voice calls.'' 4G Americas criticizes the University of 
Colorado's findings and notes that the ``study was executed in an 
academic environment with a pre-determined technology and setting. The 
study did not involve a large number of subscribers, and hence, no 
real-world traffic conditions.''

[[Page 1809]]

    75. The University of Colorado study also found that text messaging 
is actually more reliable than voice communications when a weak signal 
exists, ``such as when the caller is in the mountains, in the midst of 
high rise buildings, inside a building, under a collapsed building 
following an earthquake or explosion, or in a trunk of a car [or] 
closet.'' The University of Colorado notes that ``[c]ommunication at 
the edge of coverage can be sporadic, allowing only momentary windows 
of communications coverage that are not long enough to support a voice 
call but a short burst of a text message can get through. In addition, 
some implementations of SMS automatically keep trying to send a text 
message until a transmission window opens.''
    76. Intrado conducted the second technical study, in which it sent 
``tens of thousands of actual SMS messages [from] a simulated PSAP to a 
mobile device and from a mobile device to the simulated PSAP.'' The 
study found that ``by using techniques such as the 9-1-1 SMSC [short 
message service center], SMS can be used to create a very reliable and 
timely 9-1-1 communication infrastructure.'' According to Intrado, 
``90% [of the text messages] were delivered within 3-4 seconds.''
    77. Discussion. While 4G Americas, CTIA, Motorola, and several 
other commenters provide anecdotes about the limited reliability of 
SMS-to-911, the University of Colorado and Intrado conducted the only 
two technical studies on this issue. Notably, both of these studies 
found that the reliability of SMS-to-911 is comparable to voice, and in 
some instances, even more reliable than voice. Further, we believe that 
the success of the existing trials, the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement, 
and the continued rollout of text-to-911 services throughout the nation 
demonstrate that industry has already overcome many of the reliability 
deficiencies that were originally cited in the comments. While SMS was 
certainly not designed for emergency communications, we disagree with 
T-Mobile's claim that ``SMS is fundamentally unsuited for emergency 
communications.'' Indeed, a life was saved in Vermont as a direct 
result of Verizon's SMS-to-911 trial. Additionally, we note that, for 
callers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, reaching 911 by voice may not 
be possible at all, so that even a mechanism that is not perfectly 
reliable can provide significant benefit. For callers who are not deaf, 
text-to-911 provides an additional way to reach PSAPs, thus increasing 
the overall probability of obtaining help. Finally, we believe that our 
proposal for wireless carriers to provide a ``bounce-back'' capability 
will further mitigate reliability concerns. Accordingly, given the 
significant benefits of text-to-911 service, we do not believe that 
reliability concerns should delay the deployment of text-to-911. We 
seek comment on this analysis.
6. Carrier and Third Party Non-SMS-Based Text-to-911 Applications
    78. As technology and consumer habits evolve, consumer expectations 
also change and the need to meet those expectations in times of 
emergency must also evolve. As more consumers use SMS-substitutes, 
whether provided by the underlying carrier or by a third party, it is 
important that we evaluate ways to alleviate consumer confusion and 
promote regulatory parity. We note, however, that despite this 
proliferation of SMS-substitutes, the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement is 
limited to SMS services provided by the signatory providers.
    79. Accordingly, as discussed below, we are seeking comment on a 
variety of issues associated with non-SMS messaging applications, 
including ``over-the-top'' texting applications provided by third-
parties. In this regard, our focus is on those applications that are 
most like SMS and therefore most likely to be the subject of a consumer 
expectation that they may reach 911, namely those two-way texting 
applications that allow text messages to be sent to any U.S. phone 
number, irrespective of the hardware utilized to send that message.
    80. Background. In the Notice, the Commission sought comment on 
non-SMS text-to-911 alternatives, including IP-based messaging, real-
time text, and downloadable software applications. While noting the 
potential advantages of SMS as an interim solution, the Commission also 
sought comment on how to encourage the development of non-SMS options 
that could provide more flexibility and functionality to consumers.
    81. Commenters generally support allowing carriers and service 
providers to develop alternatives to SMS-based text. NENA notes that 
smartphone-based text-to-911 applications could lower costs for both 
consumers and PSAPs and that ``because 9-1-1 text applications would 
run on smartphones or advanced devices, their call streams could, in 
some instances, operate outside the normal 911 voice call path.'' The 
University of Colorado observes that ``there are an increasing number 
of smartphone applications and other SMS short cuts that provide for 
pre-stored and automatically composed messages, such as contact 
information for an epileptic having a seizure, or to include location 
[GPS] coordinates.'' Bandwidth.com notes that applications can be 
``specifically geared toward enhancing the ability of the deaf and hard 
of hearing to access public safety via texting.'' LR Kimball states 
that ``[s]oftware applications that can integrate into the legacy 911 
system should be the first choice in the short term to allow for more 
complete access. * * * [and] should be developed in a way that makes 
use of services currently in use at PSAPs.'' AT&T urges the Commission 
to avoid imposing text-to-911 regime that would force carriers to 
continue supporting SMS-based text-to-911 after SMS has become 
technologically obsolete or economically uncompetitive.
    82. In the Notice, the Commission also observed that consumers are 
acquiring more advanced mobile devices (e.g., 3G and 4G handsets) that 
enable them to install ``over-the-top'' software applications. In the 
Notice, we sought comment on whether text-to-911 requirements should 
apply to both CMRS and non-CMRS providers alike. The Commission sought 
comment on the feasibility of using general texting or 911-specific 
software applications to send text messages to PSAPs. The Commission 
noted that both providers and third parties, including vendors that 
provide services and equipment to PSAPs, could develop such 
applications.
    83. In response to the Notice, CTIA and AT&T noted the 
proliferation of ``over-the-top'' software applications and highlighted 
the need for the Commission to implement technology neutral regulations 
that apply equally to both carrier-provided and non-carrier-provided 
texting solutions. CTIA stated that ``it is * * * unclear how a 
national SMS-based interim solution would work in the context of over-
the-top applications or other non-carrier-provided SMS solutions'' and 
emphasizes that ``the [FCC] must * * * consider the severed link 
between the licensed CMRS service provider and the emergency calling 
capabilities, such as location accuracy, of end-user devices and over-
the-top applications.'' AT&T notes that: (1) ``limiting the mandate of 
[t]ext-to-911 services to SMS services provided by telecommunications 
carriers would be short-sighted, and thus a great disservice to the 
general public[;]'' (2) a ``mandate that is exclusive to the SMS 
platform fails to account for the fact that such services are 
experiencing both declining revenues and usage due to the

[[Page 1810]]

proliferation of free [`over-the-top'] texting applications[;]'' and 
(3) ``[t]he FCC must adopt a technologically-neutral solution that 
applies equally to carrier-provided SMS services and competitive 
alternatives to avoid distorting the marketplace to the detriment of 
one service provider.'' AT&T further explains that ``failing to include 
[`over-the-top'] substitutes in the mandate may cause significant 
customer confusion regarding the accessibility of emergency services 
via text message'' and that ``applying this mandate on a technology 
neutral basis ensures that the effectiveness of the mandate does not 
depend on the dominance of any platform or on the market position of 
any group of service providers.'' Additionally, AT&T notes that 
``including [`over-the-top'] providers in the scope of a text-to-911 
mandate would assist ongoing industry standards work by encouraging 
[those] providers to participate in * * * developing a text-to-911 
solution.''
    84. On the other hand, several entities express concerns about the 
Commission extending text-to-911 obligations to ``over-the-top'' 
software applications. Sprint notes that ``[m]any * * * over-the-top 
messaging providers are relatively small and likely may not have the 
financial resources to achieve PSAP integration.'' Sprint also asserts 
that ``it would not be able to control * * * third-party commercial 
offerings nor influence how wireless consumers utilize such 
applications.'' Further, Sprint highlights the limitations associated 
with ``over-the-top'' software solutions, including the ability to 
``obtain location information associated with a particular call.'' 
Similarly, U.S. Cellular states that it prefers text-to-911 to ``be 
considered in the context of native SMS,'' and that it does not favor 
covering over-the-top text applications. U.S. Cellular also notes that 
``on some devices, SMS messages up-convert to MMS, and delivery of 
those converted messages to PSAP[s] would need to be further 
explored.'' Motorola Mobility maintains that ``any regulatory 
responsibility for over-the-top text-to-911 applications, including 
collection of precise location information, must rest only on the 
application developer.''
    85. The VON Coalition argues that ``there is no public policy 
justification for extending SMS-to-911 obligations to over-the-top IP 
text applications'' and maintains that ``[t]here is no evidence that 
customers using over-the-top applications expect that they can use 
these applications to contact emergency services.'' The VON Coalition 
contends that ``[i]t seems highly unlikely that a wireless user with 
both an SMS functionality and an over-the-top messaging application 
would in some instances choose to open an application, sign in and then 
send an `SMS' to a PSAP rather than simply using the wireless phone's 
SMS capability that (a) the customer likely uses on a near-daily basis, 
and (b) is readily available to the user without opening any 
application or providing sign-in information.'' The VON Coalition 
highlights that ``over-the-top messaging applications, which are 
dependent on the availability of broadband Internet access, are less 
reliable than a wireless carrier's SMS text services that require no 
broadband availability and, moreover, very little bandwidth vis-
[agrave]-vis voice or other data communications on a wireless carrier's 
network.'' The VON Coalition also notes that ``there currently are no 
location solutions for over-the-top applications--neither for routing a 
message to the appropriate PSAP nor to provide sufficient location 
information associated with the caller.'' The VON Coalition adds that 
``[b]ecause an over-the-top message is provided over another provider's 
network--whether a wireless carrier, wireline carrier or a Wi-Fi 
hotspot--there is no real-time location information associated with the 
over-the-top message.'' Accordingly, the VON Coalition ``recommend[s] 
that over-the-top IP-based messaging and text services that rely on the 
mobile operator's data network should be excluded from an interim 
[text-to-911 requirement] as they are precisely the type of 
communications capability for which NG911 is intended.''
    86. More recently, the VON Coalition reiterates these points and 
further argues that the lack of user location information is an 
impediment to enabling routing of an emergency text to the appropriate 
PSAP. Moreover, they argue that implementing an interim solution 
directed at text-to-911 may impact the transition to NG911, or may 
stifle innovation and alter business models. Should the Commission 
pursue a 911 obligation for IP-based SMS providers, the VON Coalition 
urges that any obligation be limited to ``two-way'' over-the-top SMS, 
so that a texting customer is able to receive a bounce-back message 
where a PSAP is unable to receive text-to-911 messages.
    87. Similarly, Apple urges the Commission, in addition to 
considering the jurisdictional and technical issues associated with 
implementing a text-to-911 obligation for over-the-top text messaging 
application providers, to limit its proposals to those applications 
that (1) are installed on a device that determines the user's location 
using a technology that meets the enhanced 911 requirements set forth 
in Section 20.18(h) of the Commission's rules; and (2) independently 
enables the user to send text-based messages to and receive text-based 
messages from any valid North American Numbering Plan telephone number 
via the short message service protocol.
    88. Discussion. As smartphone technology and applications 
proliferate, wireless consumers increasingly have the ability to send 
and receive text messages using downloadable software applications. 
These applications may be provided to the consumer by the underlying 
wireless service provider or by third party software providers, and may 
use one of a variety of text delivery methods. For example, some text 
applications deliver text to mobile telephone numbers over the 
carrier's existing mobile-switched SMS network, while other 
applications deliver text over IP data networks, and some applications 
support both delivery methods and can also deliver MMS content. Several 
over-the-top applications hold themselves out as competitive 
alternatives to CMRS-provided SMS services. In addition, some software 
providers have developed 911-specific software applications for 
smartphone users that are designed specifically to support 
communication by text and other media with PSAPs that install and 
operate the application. As the Wall Street Journal recently noted, the 
volume of SMS text messages per month sent by consumers has recently 
dropped 3 percent, with the most likely explanation of this ``major 
shift in mobile communications'' attributable to migration of these 
messages to over-the-top messaging platforms. Another study suggests 
that over 45 percent of smartphone owners use an SMS alternative such 
as over-the-top messaging apps in addition to or in lieu of traditional 
SMS. And while other analysts predict that SMS will continue to grow 
globally through 2016, they further predict a large scale drop-off in 
SMS in favor of over-the-top applications thereafter.
    89. This trend towards development and use of new third-party text 
applications has significant implications for the implementation of 
text-to-911. While SMS is currently the most widely available and 
heavily used texting method in the U.S., and is likely to remain so for 
some time, consumer access to and use of third-party text applications 
is likely to increase over time. As this occurs, some consumers may 
choose to use such applications as their primary means of communicating 
by text, relying less on SMS or possibly bypassing SMS entirely. In 
that

[[Page 1811]]

eventuality, consumers that become familiar with software applications 
by using them for everyday non-emergency communications will be 
increasingly likely to prefer them for emergency communications. 
Moreover, consumers faced with the pressure of an emergency may attempt 
to use the most familiar application available to contact 911 even if 
they are not certain that it will work.
    90. Given this emerging trend for technology and consumer behavior 
patterns, we believe it is important to consider whether certain third 
party-provided text applications and carrier-provided applications 
should be subject to text-to-911 obligations, particularly those that 
hold themselves out as substitutes for carrier-provided SMS services. 
In choosing to use a particular text application from a variety of 
available options, consumers may not even be aware of the identity of 
the party providing the application or the nature of network technology 
that the application uses to deliver the text. Thus, imposing text-to-
911 requirements based on the identity of the provider or the delivery 
technology could lead to some applications supporting text-to-911 while 
other applications that are functionally similar from the consumer 
perspective do not support text-to-911. In this respect, it may be 
important to consider consumer expectations both now and in the future 
as a matter of public safety, as well as to consider means to promote 
competitive neutrality to ensure that like services are treated 
comparably, thereby avoiding arbitrage created by artificial regulatory 
distinctions.
    91. As discussed above, consumers now have access to a wide variety 
of tools that allow the sending of text messages on almost any 
computing and communication device. However, as the VON Coalition 
notes, consumers may not have the expectation to send text messages to 
911 from all possible text applications, and some of these may face 
significant technical difficulties in delivering text messages to the 
correct PSAP, possibly depending on the platform the application is 
running on. Thus, we divide text applications into two broad 
categories, namely (1) interconnected text applications that use IP-
based protocols to deliver text messages to a service provider, which 
the service provider then delivers the text messages to destinations 
identified by a telephone number, using either IP-based or SMS 
protocols, and (2) non-interconnected applications that only support 
communication with a defined set of users of compatible applications 
but do not support general communication with text-capable telephone 
numbers. We seek comment on applying text-to-911 obligations on the 
former category, but not the latter.
    92. In this respect, we seek comment on the characteristics of 
interconnected text applications to which text-to-911 obligation should 
apply, if adopted. As described above, Apple suggests a two-prong 
approach to determine whether an interconnected text application would 
fall within the Commission's proposed text-to-911 obligations. The VON 
Coalition similarly suggests that over-the-top applications should be 
``two way'' in order for a text-to-911 obligation to attach. Are either 
of these definitions appropriate? Are they too limited? Do these 
characteristics conform to consumer expectations? For example, if a 
text messaging application only provides for ``outbound-only'' 
messaging to a U.S. telephone number, would a consumer still expect to 
be able to reach 911? Are there other characteristics that we should 
take into account?
    93. We also propose to treat providers of such non-SMS text 
applications similarly to CMRS providers with respect to the obligation 
to provide text-to-911 capability to their users within a defined 
timeframe. By enabling text communication with any text-capable mobile 
number, these ``interconnected text'' applications provide effectively 
the same functionality that SMS provides currently. Therefore, we 
believe the same text-to-911 obligations should apply on a technology-
neutral and provider-neutral basis. We seek comment on this proposal 
generally and on the issues discussed below.
    94. We also seek comment on whether third-party interconnected text 
software providers face technical issues or obstacles in the 
implementation of text-to-911 that could affect the extent to which a 
text-to-911 requirement may be implemented, or the timeframe for such 
implementation. Commenters agree that flexibility in implementation is 
important to reduce the burden of deploying text-to-911. This is likely 
to be particularly important for interconnected text applications, 
since they are often designed by smaller enterprises. Do third-party 
software providers face difficulties assuring that their application 
works reliably on all hardware platforms, operating systems, and 
operation system versions supported by the application? Do these 
applications have access, possibly after asking for user permission, to 
cell tower and/or geo location information via platform application 
programming interfaces? Can applications warn users that disabling 
location functionality for an application may interfere with the 
ability to send text-to-911 messages? Could operating system providers 
facilitate the access to location information for emergency calling and 
texting purposes? If the text application cannot obtain location 
information, under what circumstances can the application deliver the 
text message to a gateway and have the gateway service determine the 
approximate location of the message sender? Can texting applications 
determine the cellular telephone number of handsets to help locate the 
mobile device?
    95. To facilitate discussion, we posit three possible 
implementation choices and invite comment on their respective 
advantages and disadvantages, as well as descriptions of additional 
options. The descriptions are meant to be illustrative, and are not 
meant to limit how implementers achieve the goal of providing text-to-
911 to users of their applications.
    96. The first implementation option leverages the SMS application 
programming interface (API) offered by common smartphone operating 
systems. The interconnected text application would use the API to 
deliver any text message addressed to 911, while using the application-
specific mechanism for all other, non-emergency messages. It appears 
that many applications already separate messages by destination, as 
they often only deliver messages using Internet protocols for certain 
countries or regions.
    97. In the second option, text-to-911 messages are handled the same 
as any other text message and delivered to the SMS gateway provider 
chosen by the application vendor. The gateway provider then delivers 
those messages to text-capable destinations. This gateway provider 
handles text messages addressed to 911 and delivers them to the 
location-appropriate PSAP, possibly with the assistance of a third 
party 911 message routing service.
    98. Finally, in the third option, text-to-911 messages are 
delivered via Internet application layer protocols to PSAPs, without 
being converted to SMS along the way, using NG911 protocol mechanisms. 
The messages can be delivered to PSAPs either by the provider of the 
text messaging application or a third-party service provider.
    99. Are there alternative mechanisms that might be used? Which of 
these methods provides advantages or disadvantages for the application 
developer? For the PSAP? For the consumer? Which options are more 
likely to transition seamlessly to NG911, or provide a foundation that 
can be

[[Page 1812]]

leveraged by one or more of the parties in the NG911 delivery chain? 
How do these options differ in terms of implementation complexity, 
reliance on technologies not readily available, cost to the text 
messaging provider or reliability?
    100. Commenters have previously expressed concerns about the lack 
of access by the third party provider to consumer location information 
associated with a text-to-911 message, impacting both the ability to 
deliver the text message to the appropriate PSAP and the ability to 
locate the consumer seeking assistance. Which of the options described 
above facilitate delivery of location information? Are there other 
technical mechanisms or commercial arrangements that would facilitate 
the ability of a third party text application to ascertain the location 
from which the text originated? Can a requirement to provide text-to-
911 precede such an ability? Can privacy controls utilized by some 
applications to limit access to location information interfere with the 
ability to identify the origination of a text-to-911 message? Are there 
other privacy concerns that need to be considered, or is it reasonable 
to assume that a person sending a text to 911 implicitly waives such 
privacy concerns? Can third party text messaging applications bypass 
any privacy safeguards when 911 is the destination short code?
7. Timetable for Text-to-911 Implementation
    101. We seek comment on whether all CMRS providers and 
interconnected text providers should be required to implement the 
capability to support text-to-911 throughout their networks by May 15, 
2014. In light of the public safety benefits of making text-to-911 
available to consumers regardless of carrier or service provider, and 
the benefits to both PSAPs and consumers from coordinated 
implementation, we believe it may be desirable for all CMRS providers, 
including small and rural carriers, and all interconnected text 
providers to implement text-to-911 capability in their networks on a 
timetable comparable to the four largest wireless carriers. Setting a 
single, uniform deadline for all providers would arguably facilitate 
coordination among text-to-911 providers, vendors, and PSAPs, reduce 
the likelihood of non-uniform deployment, and provide consumers with a 
clear expectation of when text-to-911 will be supported regardless of 
which carrier or service provider they use.
    102. We seek comment on this approach. Would a uniform timetable 
help minimize consumer confusion? Is such a uniform timeframe feasible, 
or are there factors that could prevent small, rural, and regional CMRS 
providers and third-party interconnected text providers from 
implementing text-to-911 in the same timeframe as the four major CMRS 
providers? For example, some parties have posited that the relatively 
small size and lack of resources for certain applications developers 
would limit their ability to comply with a text-to-911 requirement. Is 
this accurate? Are there other factors we should consider?
    103. The Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement also states that once a 
``valid'' PSAP request is made for delivery of text messages, ``service 
will be implemented within a reasonable amount of time of receiving 
such request, not to exceed six months.'' Further, a request for 
service will be ``considered valid if, at the time the request is made: 
(a) the requesting PSAP represents that it is technically ready to 
receive 9-1-1 text messages in the format requested; and (b) the 
appropriate local or State 9-1-1 service governing authority has 
specifically authorized the PSAP to accept and, by extension, the 
signatory service provider to provide, text-to-911 service (and such 
authorization is not subject to dispute).'' Are these reasonable 
conditions? Is six months an appropriate timeframe? What steps does a 
CMRS or interconnected text provider have to take to add a PSAP to its 
list of text recipients and how much time are such steps likely to 
take? Should the same timeframe apply for both CMRS providers and 
interconnected text providers? Should this timeframe become shorter 
over time as the process for responding to PSAP requests becomes more 
established and routine?
8. 911 Short Code
    104. Background. Short codes for mobile-switched text messaging are 
administered by the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) and are 
typically five-digit or six-digit numbers. In the Notice, the 
Commission sought comment on whether a national short code for text-to-
911 should be designated by the Commission, a standards-setting body, 
or some other entity. The Commission also asked how the short code 
should be designated or implemented.
    105. Commenters in general agree that the Commission should 
establish and reserve the digits `9-1-1' as a national short code for 
text-to-911. Most notably, under the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement, the 
four largest wireless carriers committed to ``implement a `9-1-1' short 
code that can be used by customers to send text messages to 9-1-1.'' 
APCO notes that ``text-to-9-1-1 should involve the digits `9-1-1' and 
not a different short code'' and that ``[a]ny short code other than 9-
1-1 will eventually need to be phased out as regions are able to accept 
text solutions direct to the PSAPs via NG911.'' NENA urges that ``any 
short code implemented must be uniform across carriers and geographic 
or political boundaries.'' King County states that ``a national short 
code, ideally using the digits 9-1-1, should be designated by Congress 
or the [FCC], similar to the designation of 911 as the national 
emergency number by Congress.'' AT&T argues that the Commission should 
``establish and reserve a standardized SMS short code'' and that it 
``makes sense to use some variation of the present abbreviated dialing 
pattern 9-1-1 for this purpose.'' Intrado believes that ``an 
appropriate text solution should use the digits 911.'' Motorola, 
however, cautions that there may be technical issues associated with 
using 911 as an SMS short code in some devices, and that ``end users 
experiences in trying to use 911 as an SMS short code may be seriously 
lacking.'' Nevertheless, Motorola notes that it ``has released well in 
excess of 100 mobile devices and software combinations in the U.S. 
market within the past three years, none of which has been tested for 
support of 911 as a SMS short code.''
    106. Discussion. The evolution of 911 as the national emergency 
telephone number has resulted in the digits ``9-1-1'' being widely and 
uniformly associated with emergency communication in the United States. 
American consumers are familiar with dialing 911 to place an emergency 
voice call, and children are routinely taught to dial 911 as the way to 
summon help from police, fire, and ambulance service. This widespread 
use and consumer recognition of 911 makes it logical and highly 
desirable to implement 911 as a standard three-digit short code for 
sending emergency text messages to PSAPs wherever and whenever 
feasible.
    107. Moreover, the general technical feasibility of using 911 as a 
text short code appears to be established. In each of the text-to-911 
trials that have occurred to date, subscribers of the participating 
CMRS providers have been able to use 911 as the short code for text 
messages to participating PSAPs. Moreover, under the Carrier-NENA-APCO 
Agreement, the four largest wireless carriers committed to ``implement 
a `9-1-1' short code that

[[Page 1813]]

can be used by customers to send text messages to 9-1-1.''
    108. Given the apparent technical feasibility of a 911 short code 
and the widespread consumer recognition of 911 as the standard 
emergency number in the U.S., we do not believe that other CMRS 
providers should encounter any substantial issues with using a 911 
short code. We therefore propose that whenever technically feasible, 
all CMRS providers should configure their networks and text-capable 
cell phones to support 911 as the three-digit short code for emergency 
text messages sent to PSAPs. We seek comment on this proposal. We also 
seek comment on whether there are any text-capable cell phones being 
sold in the United States that are incapable of using the digits 911 as 
a short code. If so, what are those devices and how many of them are in 
use? To what extent, if any, could such devices be modified or updated 
by a consumer or wireless retail store to support a three-digit code? 
In the event that certain devices cannot be so modified or updated, 
should we designate an alternate short code (e.g., a five-digit code) 
that such devices could use?
    109. With respect to interconnected text applications, we recognize 
that ``short codes'' per se may not be appropriate conceptually for 
non-SMS texting. We therefore seek comment about whether there are any 
technical obstacles or other issues associated with such applications 
using the three-digit identifier 911. How can these issues, if any, be 
addressed? Are they specific to particular applications, or to IP-text 
messaging generally? Should interconnected text applications provide an 
icon indicating the ability to reach text-to-911?
9. TTY Compatibility Requirement for Wireless Services and Handsets
    110. The Commission first adopted a requirement for wireless 
carriers to be capable of transmitting TTY calls to 911 services in 
July 1996. Although the initial deadline set for implementation of this 
requirement was October 1, 1997, efforts to find a technical solution 
to support TTY (Baudot) technology over digital wireless systems ended 
up taking years of research and testing. As a result, the Commission 
granted multiple extensions of time for entities to comply with this 
mandate, ultimately requiring compliance by June 30, 2002. At that 
time, per the 1996 Order, wireless service providers were required to 
upgrade their digital networks to be compatible with TTYs and handset 
manufacturers were required to provide a means by which users could 
select a TTY mode on their phone's menus. However, by the time these 
changes were implemented, new digital technologies, more mobile and 
less expensive, had caused most TTY users to migrate away from use of 
these devices as their primary communication mode.
    111. It is for this reason that the CVAA included a provision for 
the EAAC to consider deadlines ``for the possible phase out of the use 
of current-generation TTY technology to the extent that this technology 
is replaced with more effective and efficient technologies and methods 
to enable access to emergency services by individuals with 
disabilities.'' ATIS points to this provision in recommending that the 
Commission waive the TTY compatibility requirement for new wireless 
handsets where such handsets support the ATIS INES Incubator 
recommended solution. Specifically, ATIS argues that ``[w]hile PSAPs 
and wireless networks should support TTY services for the foreseeable 
future, the TTY requirement for wireless handsets may be a redundant 
communication modality for future wireless handsets that support the 
recommended ATIS INES Incubator solution.
    112. As we noted earlier, the EAAC survey confirmed the declining 
use of TTYs by people with disabilities as well as the need for new 
forms of accessible communications to reach 911 services--including 
text and video--by persons who have hearing or speech disabilities. The 
decline in TTY usage is also reflected in the steep reduction in the 
number of minutes of TTY-based TRS over the last several years. At the 
same time, an estimated 100,000 users make approximately 20,000 
emergency calls annually using TTY. In other words, while it is true 
that TTY use is declining, TTY still provides an invaluable, real-time 
911 service for its users. Additionally, no similar robust products 
exist for mobile and IP-networks, where the expected lifetime of a 
product is about two years as opposed to TTY's ten year expected 
lifetime. Finally, users of TTY may not wish to switch to a new 
communication mechanism with which they are not familiar.
    113. Therefore, we seek further comment on whether the Commission 
should sunset the TTY requirement for new handsets, and if so, what 
criteria should be adopted before such action is taken. If the 
Commission does sunset the TTY requirement for new wireless handsets, 
should it do so only contingent upon a wireless texting capability? The 
EAAC recommended that the Commission lift the TTY requirement only for 
those handsets that have ``at a minimum real time text or, in an LTE 
environment, IMS Multimedia Telephony that includes real-time text.'' 
In addition, the EAAC's 2012 Subcommittee on TTY Transition concluded 
that ``[c]onsistent implementation of a well-defined `TTY replacement' 
with higher functionality real-time text, simultaneous voice and better 
mobility can fill an important need in accessible communication for 
user to user calls, relayed calls and 9-1-1 calls.'' We seek comment on 
these EAAC recommendations concerning the removal of the TTY 
requirement. Should the ubiquitous use of SMS, alone or with other 
forms of text capability, be a factor in determining whether to lift 
the TTY requirement? Or, does the real-time nature of TTY communication 
make it fundamentally different from SMS, such that SMS is not a valid 
replacement for TTY-capable handsets?
10. Routing and Location Accuracy
    114. In the Notice, the Commission sought comment on how to ensure 
that text messages to 911 include accurate location information for 
routing to the appropriate PSAP and for determination of the sender's 
location by the PSAP. The record developed in response to the Notice 
indicates that it is technically feasible to route text messages 
originated on CMRS mobile switched networks to the appropriate PSAP 
based on the cell sector from which the text originated. Therefore, we 
propose to require CMRS providers (and their associated text-to-911 
vendors) to use cell sector location to route 911 text messages 
originated on their networks to the appropriate PSAP. We also seek 
comment on any technical or informational challenges for third party 
interconnected text providers with respect to determining caller 
location and providing the appropriate routing. We do not propose at 
this time to require provision of E911 Phase II location information in 
conjunction with 911 text messages, although we encourage its provision 
where technically feasible. We discuss these proposals in greater 
detail below.
a. Routing of Text Messages to the Appropriate PSAP
    115. Background. While the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement does not 
speak specifically to routing issues, the signatory providers agreed to 
provide text-to-911 on an interim ``best-efforts'' service subject to a 
valid PSAP request. However, the provision of text-to-911 under the 
Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement is limited to ``the capabilities

[[Page 1814]]

of the existing SMS service offered by a participating wireless service 
provider on the home wireless network to which a wireless subscriber 
originates an SMS message.'' Many commenters, including public safety 
entities, argue that any text-to-911 solution must be capable of 
routing text messages to the appropriate PSAP based on the sender's 
location. APCO states that ``any solution must provide PSAP call 
routing capability that is as good as or better than what is being 
deployed today.'' BRETSA and the Colorado 9-1-1 Task Force agree that 
``[t]he location of the caller must be available for the purposes of 
routing the call to the correct PSAP.''
    116. Focusing on SMS-to-911, some CMRS commenters contend that 
there are technical difficulties in routing SMS messages to the correct 
PSAP. The Blooston Rural Carriers claim that ``current SMS standards do 
not support automated routing to the PSAP or automated location 
information.'' Sprint Nextel states that ``location information is not 
included with SMS text messages and would not be available for PSAP 
routing.'' 4G Americas argues that ``SMS * * * provides no location 
information--not even a cell tower--so the originating network may not 
accurately route the message to the correct PSAP. Because the lack of 
location and session information, false messages can be easily spoofed 
* * * without the PSAP detecting the spoof.''
    117. However, commenting vendors counter that even if SMS was not 
initially designed to support automatic routing to PSAPs, it is 
technologically feasible to add the capability to route SMS text 
messages to a specific PSAP based on the sender's location. According 
to Intrado, SMS messages can be routed to the appropriate PSAP by 
adding a Text Positioning Center (TPC) to the existing wireless 
network. Intrado states that the TPC will ``function like a [Mobile 
Position Center] associated with wireless voice calls'' and that 
``[u]pon a mobile device's initial text-to-911, the TPC will determine 
the appropriate PSAP to which to route the text request for 
assistance.'' Intrado also notes that the ``routing determination will 
be based upon the location of the cell sector to which the mobile 
device is connected.'' TCS similarly states that SMS messages can be 
routed to the appropriate PSAP ``[b]y combining existing location 
technologies with existing SMS protocol capabilities.'' The VON 
Coalition also notes routing challenges for third-party over-the-top 
application providers, which may not have direct access to caller 
location.
    118. Discussion. Verizon and TCS have indicated that they will use 
coarse location as the basis for PSAP routing determination in their 
deployment of text-to-911. Moreover, according to the Tennessee 
Emergency Communications Board (TECB), ``[t]he TECB would not have 
agreed to host the pilot [with AT&T] had it not included the capability 
for location information to travel with the text. The Tennessee pilot 
will include a texting solution that includes rough location 
information.'' The coarse or rough location information as referred to 
by Verizon and TECB is the equivalent to the location of the cell 
sector from which the wireless 911 call is made--or generally E911 
Phase I information under the Commission's E911 rules. Given the 
apparent technical feasibility of cell sector location and its actual 
use in text-to-911 trials to date, we propose that CMRS providers be 
required to route text messages automatically to the appropriate PSAP 
based on the cell sector to which the mobile device is connected. We 
also propose to define the ``appropriate'' PSAP presumptively for text-
to-911 routing purposes to be the same PSAP that would receive 911 
voice calls from the same cell sector. However, we recognize that in 
some instances, state or local 911 authorities may wish to have text 
messages routed to a different PSAP from the one that receives 911 
voice calls from the same location (e.g., to have all 911 texts within 
a state or region routed to a single central PSAP rather than to 
individual local PSAPs). Therefore, we propose to allow designation of 
an alternative PSAP for routing purposes based on notification by the 
responsible state or local 911 authority. We seek comment on these 
proposals. We also seek comment on whether there are any technical 
obstacles or cost factors that could make it more difficult for some 
CMRS providers, such as small or rural carriers, to support automated 
routing of text messages to the appropriate PSAP.
    119. We also seek comment on specific technical or informational 
challenges that third-party over-the-top messaging applications 
providers may face with respect to assessing caller location and the 
associated PSAP. Apple, for example, suggests that text-to-911 
obligations should only attach for third-party text messaging 
applications where the applications is installed on a phone that meets 
the Commission's location accuracy requirements. Will this be 
sufficient to enable such applications to accurately route a 911 call 
to the appropriate PSAP? Are there other agreements or protocols that 
would be necessary between the third-party application provider and the 
underlying carrier to ensure appropriate routing? What would these 
entail?
    120. Several commenters noted that spoofing could compromise the 
accuracy of location-based routing of SMS text messages to PSAPs. We 
note, however, that the proposed systems use systems not under the 
control of the caller to query for cell tower location. SMS messaging 
uses the same mechanism as calls to provide the originating number to 
the network, and thus, there is no unique attribute of text messaging 
that leaves it open to spoofing. We also note that the potential for 
spoofing already exists for VoIP calls to 911. As Vermont indicates 
with regard to its text-to-911 trial, ``there is nothing about this new 
technology that is any more likely to result in `spoof' contacts than 
what we already deal with on the voice side of the system.'' 
Accordingly, we seek comment on whether the potential for spoofing text 
messages is any greater than the potential for spoofing VoIP calls. Are 
there any actions that the Commission could take to minimize the risk 
of text-based spoofing?
b. 911 Location Accuracy Requirements
    121. Background. In the Notice, the Commission noted that some 
parties had expressed concerns about the inability of SMS to provide 
the sender's precise location. The Commission sought comment on ways to 
overcome this limitation. Specifically, the Notice asked whether it is 
technologically feasible for the recipient of an emergency SMS text 
message to query for the texting party's location using the phone 
number provided The Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement does not specifically 
address location accuracy issues. However, the Carrier-NENA-APCO 
Agreement does limit the provision of text-to-911 to ``the capabilities 
of the existing SMS service offered by a participating wireless service 
provider on the home wireless network to which a wireless subscriber 
originates an SMS message.''
    122. Commenters indicate that, while it is feasible to use cell 
sector location to route emergency texts to the appropriate PSAP, it 
may be more difficult for CMRS providers to provide more precise 
location information in connection with text messages. Neustar notes 
that ``some wireless operators use network based location determination 
mechanisms that depend on the handset being in a voice call to receive 
enough measurement data to determine the location of the caller 
accurately. Such networks could not be expected to respond with high 
resolution location information for texters. This will be true

[[Page 1815]]

for any SMS to 911 solution.'' On the other hand, TCS indicates that 
its system would use ``the same location technologies and strategies 
used today for 9-1-1 voice calls to both route the text message to the 
appropriate PSAP, and for delivering a more precise location of the 
sender to PSAP personnel.'' TCS notes, however, that ``the carrier's 9-
1-1 location platform may not be able to provide location outside of a 
9-1-1 voice call'' and that ``coarse [location] may be the only 
available location for initial service launch.'' The VON Coalition 
expresses similar concerns with respect to providers of ``over-the-
top'' text messaging applications in terms of their inability to access 
user location information.
    123. Discussion. The record in this proceeding indicates that 
providing precise location information in connection with text messages 
is technically feasible but could involve significant changes and 
upgrades to existing SMS-based text networks. We are therefore 
concerned that it could initially be overly burdensome to require CMRS 
providers to comply with the Commission's Phase II E911 location 
accuracy rules when transmitting text messages to 911. While we 
recognize the importance of providing precise location information to 
PSAPs, we believe that the benefits of enabling consumers, particularly 
consumers with hearing and speech disabilities, to send SMS-based or 
non-SMS-based text messages to 911 outweigh the disadvantages of being 
unable to provide precise location information. Accordingly, we propose 
that the Commission's Phase II E911 location accuracy requirements not 
apply to the initial implementation of text-to-911. Nevertheless, we 
encourage the voluntary development of automatic location solutions for 
text-to-911 that provide at least the same capability as Phase II 
location information for voice calls to 911, even if the location 
solution does not use the same underlying location infrastructure. For 
example, messaging applications could transmit location information 
that is available on handsets using the data channel. Further, 
applications that use IP-based message delivery may also be able to 
include location information obtained via a mobile device API along 
with the text message. We also seek comment on whether operating system 
vendors or CMRS providers can facilitate the delivery of more precise 
location for interconnected text providers. Are there any other factors 
that the Commission should consider in regard to location delivery for 
interconnected text providers?
c. Roaming
    124. Background. Roaming enables wireless consumers to use mobile 
devices outside the geographical coverage area provided by their home 
network operator. In the Notice, the Commission asked whether it is 
technically feasible to determine the originating location of an 
emergency text message in all situations or whether it is feasible only 
in situations where the customer is not roaming. As noted above, the 
Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement does not provide text-to-911 capability to 
wireless subscribers roaming outside of a subscriber's home wireless 
network. Because sending and receiving texts while roaming involves two 
networks, the consumer's home network and the visited roaming network, 
roaming may create issues for text-to-911 because of the greater 
technical complexity of routing the message to the correct PSAP based 
on the consumer's location. In the non-emergency context, when a 
wireless consumer sends an SMS message while roaming on a visited 
network, the visited network passes the text message via designated 
signaling links to the user's home network, which in turn sends the 
text message to its final destination.
    125. Several commenters address text-to-911 in the context of 
roaming customers. In considering vendor proposals for text-to-911 
solutions, NENA contends that applicable location requirements must be 
met regardless of whether a consumer initiates or continues a text-to-
911 string through the consumer's home network or a roaming partner. 
Similarly, APCO argues that when a device roams to a visited network, 
911 text messages must be capable of remaining connected with not only 
the PSAP, but also the specific call taker. T-Mobile voices a number of 
concerns about roaming, stating that ``SMS-to-911 does not work when 
roaming.'' T-Mobile further notes that ``SMS for a T-Mobile customer 
roaming on another carrier's network remains supported by T-Mobile's 
network and messaging infrastructure, rather than by the carrier 
providing roaming. However, T-Mobile will not have location information 
when its subscriber is roaming, and thus can neither determine whether 
a roaming subscriber is in an area that supports text-to-911 nor route 
the 911 text to the appropriate PSAP.'' U.S. Cellular stresses ``the 
need for the FNPRM to include a discussion regarding the need for 
requirements to address customers sending texts to 911 while roaming 
outside of their carrier's network and for the resulting need to 
address interoperability across carrier networks.'' Finally, Sprint 
Nextel urges the Commission to refer technical considerations like 
roaming to technical working groups and standards-setting bodies for 
further discussion.
    126. Discussion. We agree with NENA and APCO that it is critical 
for consumers who are roaming to have the ability to text-to-911 during 
an emergency, and we further note that current voluntary measures do 
not provide for text-to-911 service while a subscriber is roaming. 
Accordingly, we seek comment on whether both the home and visited 
network operators must cooperate to support the delivery of the text to 
the appropriate PSAP serving the sender's location when a consumer 
sends a text message to 911 while roaming. We also seek comment on T-
Mobile's assertion that its network is unable to collect location 
information on a roaming subscriber and is thus, technically limited 
from providing text-to-911 for roaming subscribers. Could the visited 
network intercept text-to-911 messages and determine the mobile device 
location? What technical and economic obstacles need to be addressed in 
order to provide text-to-911 service to consumers? How can these 
obstacles be overcome? We also seek comment on whether the same 
approach should apply to international roamers while they are located 
in the United States.
11. PSAP Options for Receiving Text-to-911
    127. There appears to be general agreement that the NG911 
architecture offers an IP standards-based interface protocol that 
supports the delivery of text messages, regardless of the technology 
used by the mobile device. While some PSAPs are currently NG911-
capable, or soon will be, many other PSAPs will not be NG911-capable 
for an extended period of time, limiting their options for handling 
text messages in the interim. Thus, in order to implement text-to-911, 
particularly on a nationwide basis, the Commission must take the 
disparate capabilities of PSAPs into account. Accordingly, we propose a 
set of near-term options that would enable all PSAPs to accept text 
messages transmitted by CMRS or interconnected text providers, 
regardless of whether the PSAPs are NG911-capable. This proposed 
approach provides non-NG911-capable PSAPs with the flexibility to 
handle text messages in the near term without requiring PSAPs to fund 
significant upfront investments or

[[Page 1816]]

upgrades. We seek comment on each option and the proposal as a whole.
a. NG911-Capable PSAPs
    128. We propose that text-to-911 service providers deliver text 
messages to NG911-capable PSAPs using a standardized NG911 protocol, 
such as the NENA i3 protocol. This will ensure a consistent format for 
delivery of text messages to all NG911-capable PSAPs. We seek comment 
on this proposal. Should the current NENA i3 protocol be the single 
protocol used for delivery of all text messages to NG911-capable PSAPs? 
How should we account for future releases of NENA i3 that may support 
additional protocol interfaces?
b. Non-NG911-Capable PSAPs
    129. For non-NG911-capable PSAPs, several technical options are 
available that could be used for receipt of text messages. For its 
part, the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement allows PSAPs to ``select the 
format for how messages are to be delivered.'' We propose that non-
NG911-capable PSAPs be allowed to choose among several options, and to 
designate a preferred option and one or more fallback options.
(i) Web Browser
    130. Under this option, a PSAP would receive text messages via a 
web browser installed in the PSAP (typically at one or more terminals 
used by PSAP call-takers) and connected to a third-party service 
provider. Verizon Wireless and TCS have stated that with respect to 
Verizon's roll-out of text-to-911, they will offer PSAPs the ability to 
receive text messages using the web browser approach. TCS states that 
it has ``demonstrated a D-IP SMS client application that runs in a web 
browser and gives a PSAP call-taker who has connectivity to the IP-
messaging network the ability to receive, view, and respond to the SMS 
9-1-1 call.'' This approach will require the PSAP to have Internet 
connectivity, but not full NG911 capability.
    131. We seek comment on the web browser approach. Because many 
PSAPs already have Internet connectivity even if they are not NG911-
capable, we believe that this approach would offer PSAPs a cost-
effective alternative for receiving text messages without having to 
upgrade to NG911. We seek comment on what costs, other than Internet 
access, a PSAP would have to incur when implementing a web browser 
solution. For example, T-Mobile contends that TCS' web browser 
application would require PSAPs to upgrade their CPE. Is this accurate, 
and if so, what would the nature and cost of the required upgrade?
    132. We also seek comment on how the web browser option should be 
implemented in a multi-party environment where multiple web browser 
options and applications may be available to both PSAPs and text-to-911 
service providers. For example, it is possible that individual text-to-
911 service providers could offer different web browser applications to 
the same PSAP, requiring the PSAP to either support all of the offered 
applications or to request that the providers use a common application. 
Alternatively, neighboring PSAPs could select different web browser 
applications from one another, requiring a text-to-911 service provider 
serving both PSAPs to support multiple applications or to request that 
the PSAPs choose a common application.
    133. As a practical matter, we expect that many of these issues can 
be resolved through development by vendors of standards-based 
interoperable web applications that enable CMRS providers, 
interconnected text providers, and PSAPs to choose single-source 
solutions rather than having to support multiple solutions. 
Nevertheless, we seek comment on how such issues should be resolved 
where CMRS providers, interconnected text providers, and PSAPs cannot 
agree on a common web browser solution. Specifically, if the PSAP 
chooses to receive text messages via web-based delivery, under what 
circumstances should CMRS or interconnected text providers be obligated 
to accommodate the PSAP's choice of web browser application? If the 
PSAP uses a service provider (``text service provider'') to render text 
messages to a web browser, as appears likely based on the service 
trials, a problem would arise only if two CMRS or third-party text 
providers use different service providers on their end to route text-
to-911 messages. In that scenario, we proposed to allow the PSAP to 
designate its text service provider as the recipient of text messages 
under two conditions. First, the PSAP text service provider must accept 
text messages using industry-standard protocols, such as the NENA i3 
standard. Second, the PSAP text service provider must not charge the 
CMRS or interconnected text provider a fee for delivering such 
messages. We seek comment on this proposal.
(ii) Text-to-Voice Gateway Centers
    134. Under this option, a PSAP would receive text messages via a 
gateway center where emergency-trained telecommunicators would 
translate between text and voice. The gateway center would operate in a 
manner similar to a telematics call center of the kind that telematics 
providers such as OnStar use to handle emergency calls from their 
subscribers and transmit such calls to 911. Telematics providers use 
cell-site location to determine the caller's location, match the 
location to the associated PSAP, and then use VoIP-based routing to 
connect with the PSAP over its 911 trunks. Intrado has proposed a 
similar solution for delivery of text messages through a gateway.
    135. Some commenters express concerns about implementing a gateway 
approach. T-Mobile notes that ``a national SMS relay center does not 
exist today, and would have to be created and funded, which also cannot 
be accomplished rapidly.'' Sprint submits that Intrado's proposal 
``would require the installation of extensive infrastructure to adapt 
wireless networks to the solution. Whether this proposal could 
ultimately be successful nationwide as an interim text-to-911 solution 
cannot be gauged, since testing has been very limited to date.''
    136. We seek comment on the feasibility of establishing one or more 
gateway centers for translation and transmission of text messages to 
PSAPs. What are the potential costs of implementing this approach, and 
how would such costs be allocated? Are CMRS providers or vendors 
offering text-to-911 services likely to develop and offer a gateway 
option to non-NG911-capable PSAPs? Are non-NG911-capable PSAPs likely 
to choose this option over the web browser or TTY-based delivery 
options if it is available?
    137. We also seek comment on how best to ensure that text-to-voice 
translation offered as part of the gateway option does not lead to 
harmful delays in communication between the sender and the PSAP. We 
anticipate that with proper certification and training, 
telecommunicators will be able to handle these responsibilities 
efficiently and professionally with a minimum of delay. We also 
anticipate that as an increasing number of PSAPs become capable of 
accepting IP-based text, the number of 911 text messages that will 
require text-to-voice translation will decrease, though text-to-voice 
or text-to-TTY (see below) may continue to be necessary until all PSAPs 
have been upgraded.
(iii) Text-to-TTY Translation
    138. Under this option, text messages would be converted into TTY 
calls that the PSAP would receive over its existing TTY facilities. 
Since all PSAPs already have TTY capability, this is potentially

[[Page 1817]]

a very low-cost solution that can be deployed relatively quickly. 
Moreover, this solution supports direct communication between the 
sender and the PSAP.
    139. A number of commenters express support for this option. 
Neustar contends that using TTY to transmit SMS-originated text 
messages is a viable interim solution that could ``bridge the gap'' 
before and during the transition to NG911. Neustar notes that ``almost 
all mobile phones are SMS capable but cannot do TTY and almost all 
PSAPs [are] TTY capable but cannot handle SMS.'' Neustar further 
asserts that this option could be implemented at minimal cost because 
``carriers would only need to make small investments in providing cell 
ID query mechanisms where they are not already deployed for itinerate 
use, and PSAPs should be able to handle text-to-911 using their 
existing TTY equipment.'' Verizon Wireless and TCS have stated that 
they intend to permit PSAPs that lack Internet connectivity to receive 
text messages using this approach.
    140. On the other hand, some commenters state that TTY is an 
outdated technology that could be susceptible to errors in an automated 
text-to-TTY translation process. T-Mobile states that TTYs ``are not 
sized for general public use'' and ``present their own technical 
problems.'' T-Mobile also contends that investment in TTYs would be a 
dead end investment, that TTYs are asynchronous and use Baudot tones, 
and that the half-duplex nature of TTYs can lead to messages being 
garbled if the texting party and PSAP call taker send messages over the 
top of one another. INdigital submits that ``using the TTY protocol 
with a 1% total character error rate * * * imposes a technical 
requirement that is nearly impossible to meet.'' T-Mobile asserts that 
``many PSAPs have a limited number of TTY-equipped answering stations 
[and that] the capital investment required to handle the much larger 
volume of messages that would result from a general public SMS-to-911 
system could be substantial for cash-strapped PSAPs.'' APCO adds that 
PSAPs ``us[ing] standalone TTY devices * * * will face additional 
challenges if the volume of calls to these legacy devices increase[s] 
dramatically.''
    141. We seek comment on the feasibility and potential costs and 
benefits of making the text-to-TTY approach available as a text 
delivery option for CMRS providers, interconnected text providers, and 
PSAPs. Given the age and technical limitations of the PSAPs' existing 
TTY equipment, are PSAPs capable of handling a volume of text messages 
transmitted over TTY from the general public that could be much larger 
than the low current volume of TTY 911 traffic? Could the technical 
problems associated with TTYs result in translation errors? Are there 
measures that could be taken to improve the capacity and reliability of 
TTY equipment to handle text-to-911? Are larger PSAPs likely to make 
use of TTYs to receive text-to-911 messages, compared to the other 
options discussed earlier? Do most PSAPs have stand-alone TTY devices 
or are these more likely to be built into the call taker equipment and 
would thus be able to handle a larger text volume?
(iv) State/Regional Approach
    142. Under this option, a state or regional 911 authority could 
designate a NG911-capable PSAP to receive and aggregate 911 text 
messages over a large region served by multiple non-NG911-capable 
PSAPs, such as a county, a multi-county region, or an entire state. The 
NG911-capable PSAP would exchange text messages with the caller and 
then communicate by voice with the non-text-capable PSAP that serves 
the caller's location. This approach is being applied in the Black Hawk 
County, Iowa text-to-911 trial, where the Black Hawk County PSAP 
accepts text messages from any i-Wireless user located in the state, 
thus acting as a gateway for other PSAPs in the state.
    143. We seek comment on this approach. In general, allowing 911 
authorities to aggregate handling of text messages through a single 
PSAP on a statewide or regional basis could accelerate the availability 
of text-to-911 and lead to cost savings in its implementation. This 
approach would also minimize the operational and technological impact 
of text-to-911 for non-text-capable PSAPs. However, relaying text 
messages from the designated PSAP to other PSAPs in the state or region 
could lead to delay in responding to emergency text as compared to 
emergency voice calls. We seek comment on what measures, if any, could 
reduce the risk of such delay.
c. Notification of PSAP Acceptance and Delivery Method
    144. In order for CMRS and interconnected text providers to deliver 
and PSAPs to receive emergency texts under the framework proposed in 
this Further Notice, a mechanism will be needed for each PSAP to notify 
providers (or their text-to-911 vendors) that it is prepared to accept 
text messages and indicating the delivery option it has chosen. In the 
Notice, the Commission sought comment on the possibility of developing 
a centralized routing database or databases that would identify which 
PSAPs are accepting text-to-911 messages and the routing a delivery 
method selected by each PSAP. The Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement does not 
specify a specific notification procedure; however, it defines a 
``valid request'' for text-to-911 service as one in which ``the 
requesting PSAP represents that it is technically ready to receive 911 
text messages in the format requested,'' and ``the appropriate local or 
State 911 service governing authority has specifically authorized the 
PSAP to accept and, by extension, the signatory service provider to 
provide, text-to-911 service (and such authorization is not subject to 
dispute).''
    145. In its comments, Bandwidth.com proposes a gateway architecture 
that includes a database of all PSAPs with their preferences for 
handling text messages. This approach would arguably have efficiency 
advantages because it would enable PSAPs to provide notification 
regarding text delivery only once to all parties, rather than having to 
inform every wireless carrier or systems service provider individually. 
It would also enable providers of text-to-911 routing services to 
coordinate their databases for the routing of text messages. We seek 
comment on the feasibility and cost of implementing a gateway 
architecture or database mechanism. If such coordination is desirable, 
how can it be encouraged or facilitated? What entity should operate the 
database? How should PSAPs declare their preferences? Can the registry 
of preferences be implemented as an extension of the Commission's PSAP 
database? Should there be a default preference to ensure that PSAPs 
that do not declare their text delivery option by a certain date are 
then assumed to prefer text-to-TTY delivery, since that option should 
be available without further PSAP action? What constitutes a valid 
notification? The Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement requires an appropriate 
local or State 911 service governing authority to specifically 
authorize a PSAP to accept text-to-911. Should this be a requirement 
for a valid notification?
    146. We seek comment on the feasibility and cost of implementing 
Bandwidth.com's proposal or a similar gateway architecture or database 
mechanism. This approach would arguably have efficiency advantages 
because it would enable PSAPs to provide notification regarding text 
delivery only once to all parties, rather than having to inform every 
CMRS provider or systems service provider

[[Page 1818]]

individually. It would also enable providers of text-to-911 routing 
services to coordinate their databases for routing text messages, via 
the ECRF. If such coordination is desirable, how can it be encouraged 
or facilitated? How should PSAPs declare their preferences? Should 
there be a default preference to ensure that PSAPs that do not declare 
their text delivery option by a certain date are assumed to prefer 
text-to-TTY delivery, since that option should be available without 
further PSAP action? Who should operate such a database? Can this 
registry of preferences be implemented as an extension of the 
Commission PSAP database?
12. Cost Recovery and Funding
    147. While we seek to structure our proposals to keep text-to-911 
costs as low as possible for both text-to-911 service providers and 
PSAPs, we seek comment on whether there are additional actions that the 
Commission could take to enable text-to-911 service providers and PSAPs 
to recover their costs. We note that under the Carrier-NENA-APCO 
Agreement, signatory providers agreed to provide text-to-911 
``independent of their ability to recover these associated costs from 
state or local governments.'' At the same time, the Carrier-NENA-APCO 
Agreement requires that ``incremental costs for delivery of text 
messages (e.g. additional trunk groups to the PSAP's premises required 
to support TTY delivery) will be the responsibility of the PSAP, as 
determined by individual analysis.''
a. Text Messaging Providers
    148. Background. In response to the Notice, a number of CMRS 
commenters express concerns over funding text-to-911. CTIA states that 
``[a]ppropriate funding is a significant uncertainty given the 
considerable resources that would be needed to deploy text-to-911 
capabilities on a nationwide basis.'' RCA notes that ``[c]oncern for 
adequate funding of future 911 systems is widespread and the increasing 
burden on wireless and IP-based providers to maintain the 911 system 
moving forward is troubling.''
    149. Vendors contend that existing 911 cost allocation mechanisms 
can be used to recover the cost to implement near-term text-to-911 for 
both CMRS providers and PSAPs. Intrado asserts that the cost of every 
``functional element'' of a text-to-911 solution ``can be allocated to 
wireless carrier networks and PSAPs consistent with how they are 
assigned today under the Commission's King County demarcation ruling.'' 
Intrado submits that, depending on which ``functional elements'' PSAPs 
choose to implement at each stage of text-to-911, ``the cost 
allocations can be changed if funding considerations dictate.''
    150. Some commenters suggest that existing funding mechanisms, such 
as TRS and the Universal Service Fund (USF) could be applied to recover 
costs of text-to-911 implementation. Intrado contends that ``the FCC 
can and should determine that SMS is eligible for TRS funding to the 
same extent that IP-Relay is eligible for TRS funding.'' Bandwidth.com 
submits that ``a default destination for text messages that do not have 
location info must be determined'' and contends that ``[t]he TRS/VRS 
and IP Relay service providers provide an excellent option for this 
function given their existing role in facilitating communications 
between deaf or hard-of-hearing callers and PSAP personnel.'' NASNA 
also urges the Commission to consider ``[u]se of the Universal Service 
Fund to assist States and regions with the costs of NG911.''
    151. Discussion. We believe that existing cost recovery mechanisms 
are sufficient to support implementation of text-to-911 under the 
framework presented in this Further Notice. Generally, CMRS providers 
recover their 911 implementation costs from their subscriber base. 
Since CMRS providers already support SMS and other texting applications 
in their networks, and have the ability to recover costs of those 
applications from their customers, it appears that the primary 
additional cost for CMRS providers to implement text-to-911 will be to 
establish and support the specific routing and relay functions needed 
to transmit emergency text messages to PSAPs. Additionally, under the 
Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement, the major carriers have agreed to provide 
this service independent of cost recovery from state or local 
governments. The record indicates that the incremental cost would be in 
the range of $4 million annually.
    152. We also note that an additional source of funding to reimburse 
wireless carriers for their 911 service implementation costs can be 
found in certain cost recovery programs that have been established 
through state legislation. Most states have reported to the Commission 
that ``they used the fees or surcharges that they collected for 911/
E911 service solely to fund the provision of 911/E911 service.'' 
Dependent on the regulatory mechanism set forth in each statute, states 
distribute funding either to the carriers directly, or to a designated 
state or local entity which then reimburses carriers. For example, 
Alabama provides that ``20% of the service charges collected are 
retained by the [States' Wireless 9-1-1] board * * * to reimburse 
wireless service providers for Phase I and II expenses.'' In 
comparison, Nebraska provides that from its 911 fund ``payments are 
also made directly to wireless carriers for costs incurred for the 
provision of enhanced wireless 911 services.'' Though the means and 
extent to which carriers receive state-prescribed reimbursement for 911 
implementation costs vary from state to state, we find that such cost 
recovery programs are an available and significant source of funding 
that can facilitate the roll-out of text-to-911 capability. Moreover, 
some states have started to apply their 911 funding to initiate 
deployment of full NG911 capabilities.
    153. Additionally, many states allow qualifications for cost to 
include NG911-capable components for which CMRS providers might recover 
their outlays. For example, Verizon and Verizon Wireless note that 
``[m]any state and local governments have * * * begun reconfiguring 
their funding mechanisms to facilitate NG911 deployment. We find that 
such actions could provide CMRS providers with additional funding 
flexibility to develop routing and gateway functions. We seek comment 
on this view and request that commenters update the Commission on any 
such efforts that are underway.
    154. We also seek comment on whether USF funding could play a role 
in cost recovery, particularly for low-cost text to-911 options such as 
the TTY-based approach. Could using these funding mechanisms expedite 
text-to-911 implementation? What modifications, if any, would the 
Commission have to make to these funding programs to achieve those 
objectives? In commenting on these approaches, commenters should 
consider the Commission's recent amendment of its universal service 
rules to specify that the functionalities of eligible voice telephony 
services include, among other things, access to 911 and E911 emergency 
services to the extent the local government in an eligible carrier's 
service area has implemented 911 or E911 systems. The Commission noted 
that Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) ``will be required to 
comply with NG911 rules upon implementation by state and local 
governments.''
    155. Finally, we seek comment on current or potential approaches 
that would enable third party interconnected text providers to receive 
cost recovery for obligations they may have to provide services and 
offerings to implement text-to-911 capabilities. In view of the

[[Page 1819]]

funding mechanisms in several states for CMRS providers to receive cost 
recovery, we seek comment on whether such state level mechanisms might 
currently apply to enable interconnected text providers to receive cost 
recovery in complying with text-to-911 obligations proposed in this 
Further Notice. We also seek comment on whether states or other 
jurisdictions provide or plan to provide cost recovery mechanisms that 
could apply to interconnected text providers. We note that under our 
proposed framework, the infrastructure used by interconnected text 
providers would be similar to the infrastructure used by CMRS providers 
for the delivery of text messages to a PSAP. We seek comment on whether 
this would facilitate extending existing cost recovery mechanisms on 
CMRS providers to interconnected text providers.
b. PSAPs
    156. Background. A number of public safety commenters express 
concerns about funding, noting that many PSAPs are subject to state and 
local regulatory mandates that may affect their ability to fund the 
implementation of text-to-911 service. APCO asserts that ``[m]any PSAPs 
are mandated to answer 90% of their incoming 9-1-1 calls in 10 seconds 
or less to qualify for receipt of wireless surcharge and other 9-1-1 
funds.'' APCO further contends that ``[i]t is unlikely that these * * * 
mandates will be modified to accommodate the additional time that 
interim solution based text calls may have on the PSAP's ability to 
meet these standards.'' APCO argues that, consequently, ``implementing 
SMS text-to-9-1-1 may jeopardize some PSAPs eligibility for surcharge 
funds.'' NATOA concurs, stating that ``localities could lose vital 911 
fees and other funding in the event they fail to meet performance 
mandates due to the increased time necessary to handle text-based 
calls.'' Other commenters, however, assert that recent trials have not 
substantiated the alleged increase in call-taking time due to the 
characteristics of SMS text.
    157. Wireless carrier commenters also question whether PSAPs have 
the necessary funding to support the transition to text-to-911. The 
Blooston Rural Carriers argue that ``at this point in time and for the 
foreseeable future, PSAPs are simply not equipped (and will not be 
equipped) to process SMS text-to-911 transmissions, and the costs 
associated with the PSAP upgrades needed to achieve this capability are 
apt to be great.'' Verizon and Verizon Wireless assert that ``many 
PSAPs will need to secure funding sources, all will need time to 
upgrade their own networks and facilities and train personnel, and all 
will need to educate consumers on where NG911 is available. * * *.'' 
Verizon and Verizon Wireless further submit that ``the Commission 
should avoid mandates for short-term solutions that would force NG911 
to compete with SMS-based solutions for PSAP and service provider 
resources.'' 4G Americas cites the ``[s]carce funding for PSAP NG911 
upgrades [a]s a major concern'' and argues that ``[it] would do little 
good to mandate carrier near-term deployment of technologies that would 
require massive investments by PSAPs or require a complete overhaul of 
existing emergency communications systems.''
    158. In view of perceived funding difficulties, both public safety 
commenters and CMRS providers advocate a regional or state-level 
approach to lower costs and generate economies of scale in implementing 
near-term text-to-911 as well as facilitating a transition to NG911. 
CTIA contends that ``[a] statewide approach to NG911 deployment will 
encourage wireless service providers and PSAPs to coordinate their 
efforts to deploy requested services in a reasonable and efficient 
manner and mitigate public confusion regarding the capabilities 
available to a local PSAP.'' Verizon and Verizon Wireless submit that 
``[a] statewide approach provides a bright-line mechanism that is 
consistent with funding mechanisms, which are generally governed at the 
state level * * *.'' Verizon and Verizon Wireless refer to a ``current 
trend in state governments toward greater PSAP consolidation and 
statewide coordination of NG911 efforts.'' King County notes that ``it 
may not be feasible to fund the upgrades necessary for NG911 at the 
state's 64 PSAPs'' and that ``[t]he State E911 Office and the NG911 
Subcommittee have developed a plan for the centralization of equipment 
at various hubs throughout the state that will serve multiple PSAPs in 
order to reduce equipment upgrade costs.'' Verizon and Verizon Wireless 
remark that ``[i]t is not necessary that every jurisdiction within a 
state be NG911 capable prior to a service provider's initiation of 
service within the state.'' RCA adds that ``the current economic 
climate and need for financial restraint make consolidation of PSAPs an 
essential part of the transition to NG911'' and that ``[c]onsolidation 
is one of the most important preliminary steps on the path to 
widespread NG911 deployment.''
    159. Further, NENA contends that ``[i]t will prove most efficient 
if requests for text service originate from these larger units, 
reducing costs for both the public and the providers called upon to 
provide service.'' NENA cautions, however, ``that 9-1-1 remains * * * 
[a local service] that, in many states, is provided by small local 
agencies below the county level with little or no higher level 
coordination or oversight.'' ``[T]o maintain the autonomy to which 9-1-
1 system operators have become accustomed,'' NENA suggests that the 
Commission ``refrain from mandating a regional or state-wide approach 
to system readiness showings, and instead make such aggregated showings 
optional, at the election of the states.''
    160. Discussion. PSAPs generally pay for their 911 costs from state 
and local revenues generated by monthly 911 fees that CMRS providers 
collect from their subscribers. Wireless carriers argue that cost 
recovery regulations in many jurisdictions are inadequate to meet PSAP 
funding needs for text-to-911. Verizon and Verizon Wireless note that 
``[s]ome jurisdictions impose significant restrictions on use of 911-
related fees or taxes by limiting the use of such monies for 
traditional local exchange and commercial mobile radio services, or 
imposing explicit restrictions on the types of equipment and services 
that may be purchased.'' Verizon and Verizon Wireless add that 
``[s]tate and local jurisdictions that face funding constraints may, if 
given a choice between a costly SMS-based solution versus a more robust 
IP-enabled NG911 technology, opt for the former.'' Although ``a 
particular jurisdiction [could] fund both direct SMS and NG911 
solutions, such an outcome could result in even higher fees imposed on 
consumers with marginal additional public safety benefit.''
    161. As discussed above, we propose several options that consider 
the disparities in PSAPs' current technical capabilities and that 
enable non-NG911-capable PSAPs to handle texts without significant cost 
or upgrades. For instance, both the Web delivery and the TTY-
translation options is a low cost alternative because PSAPs already 
have TTY capability. While this option employs an IP-gateway to 
facilitate routing functions compared to the traditional relay function 
of TTY/TDD, we believe that, in view of the relatively low cost to 
PSAPs to implement TTY-translation-based text-to-911, existing funding 
mechanisms can serve to defray the costs. Similarly, PSAPs that choose 
the gateway center option can limit costs by using already-trained CAs 
to translate between text and voice.
    162. Moreover, contrary to Verizon and Verizon Wireless' assertion 
that

[[Page 1820]]

funding for interim text-to-911 solutions would adversely affect the 
resources available to support a transition to full NG911 capabilities, 
we believe that the low cost options discussed above constitute a 
reasonable and cost efficient alternative to resolving possible 
limitations in funding at the state or local level. Additionally, we 
note that under the current Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement, PSAPs would be 
responsible for their incremental costs for delivery of text messages. 
We seek comment on this view.
    163. Based on our proposal to offer PSAPs an array of text-to-911 
delivery options, including options that entail very limited cost, we 
believe that existing funding mechanisms constitute a sufficient 
resource to implement text-to-911 within our proposed time frame. We 
seek comment on this approach. We also seek comment on whether these 
funding mechanisms could be applied to other IP-based component 
upgrades. If not, what modifications need to occur? Are there actions 
the Commission could take to encourage or facilitate those 
modifications at the state or regional level? We invite comment on 
approaches that the Commission could pursue to encourage the states or 
regional entities to address such changes in funding to incentivize 
deploying the necessary text-to-911 upgrades within the proposed 
timeframe.
13. Liability Protection
    164. Background. In general, liability protection for provision of 
911 service is governed by state law and has traditionally been applied 
only to LECs. However, Congress has expanded the scope of state 
liability protection by requiring states to provide parity in the 
degree of protection provided to traditional and non-traditional 911 
providers, and more recently, to providers of NG911 service. In 2008, 
Congress enacted the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act 
(Net 911 Act), which provides that a ``wireless carrier, IP-enabled 
voice service provider, or other emergency communications provider * * 
* shall have'' the same liability protection as a local exchange 
carrier under federal and state law. In February 2012, Congress further 
extended state liability protection to providers of NG911 service in 
the Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act of 2012. The Next Generation 
911 Advancement Act provides that ``a provider or user of Next 
Generation 9-1-1 services * * * shall have immunity and protection from 
liability under Federal and State law [to the extent provided under 
section 4 of the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 
1999],'' with respect to ``the release of subscriber information 
related to emergency calls or emergency services,'' ``the use or 
provision of 9-1-1 services, E9-1-1 services, or Next Generation 9-1-1 
services,'' and ``other matters related to 9-1-1 services, E9-1-1 
services, or Next Generation 9-1-1 services.''
    165. In the Notice, which was released prior to the Next Generation 
911 Advancement Act, the Commission asked whether the liability 
provisions in the NET 911 Act embrace the full range of technologies 
and service providers that will be involved in the provisioning of 
NG911 services. The Notice also asked whether the Commission has the 
authority to extend liability protection to entities involved in the 
provisioning of NG911 services or whether Congressional action is 
necessary.
    166. In response to the Notice, numerous commenters argue that 
liability protection is essential as part of any extension of 911 
requirements to include text. Commenters also assert that the lack of 
express liability protection for NG911 has hampered the deployment of 
NG911 networks. Commenters also argue that federal law requiring parity 
in state law protection does not adequately protect 911 and NG911 
service providers because the scope of underlying liability protection 
is dictated by state law and varies from state to state. AT&T, for 
example, argues that ``liability protection presently provided under 
the NET 911 Act is insufficient because it is tied to the protection 
afforded under various state laws and, often, a local exchange 
carrier's tariff.'' Motorola argues that ``[n]ational consistency in 
liability protection will be essential to encouraging investment and 
promoting a smooth NG911 transition.''
    167. Discussion. We recognize that adequate liability protection is 
needed for PSAPs, CMRS providers, third party interconnected service 
providers, and vendors to proceed with implementation of text-to-911 as 
contemplated in this Further Notice. The recent passage of the Next 
Generation 911 Advancement Act has significantly expanded the scope of 
liability protection and potentially resolved some of the issues raised 
by commenters by making clear that states must provide the same level 
of protection for NG911 as for traditional 911 and E911. We also note 
that under the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement, the four major wireless 
carriers have committed to deploy text-to-911 capability throughout 
their nationwide networks without any precondition requiring additional 
liability protection other than the protection that is provided by 
current state and Federal law. Nevertheless, we seek comment on whether 
there are additional steps the Commission could take--consistent with 
our regulatory authority--to provide additional liability protection to 
text-to-911 service providers. We also seek comment on whether the 
combined parity protection afforded by the NET 911 Act and the Next 
Generation 911 Advancement Act extends to all providers of text-to-911 
service, regardless of whether such service is provided using pre-NG911 
or NG911 mechanisms. We seek comment on whether providers of text-to-
911 service have sufficient liability protection under current law to 
provide text-to-911 services to their customers, or whether additional 
protection may still be needed or desirable.

C. Legal Authority

    168. We seek comment on the Commission's authority to apply the 
automated error message and more comprehensive text-to-911 rules 
proposed herein to both CMRS providers and other entities that offer 
interconnected text messaging services (including third-party providers 
of ``over-the- top'' text messaging applications). In doing so, we 
incorporate herein the portions of our 2011 Notice regarding the 
Commission's authority to adopt text-to-911 rules. We note that, in 
response to our 2011 Notice, numerous parties addressed the 
Commission's authority to adopt text-to-911 rules under the CVAA, Title 
III, and our ancillary authority. Since then, we have modified our 
proposals and taken into account recent developments regarding the 
deployment of text-to-911 offerings, including the recent Carrier-NENA-
APCO Agreement.
    169. We now ask parties to refresh the record on the legal 
authority issues and to address their comments to the particular rules 
being proposed herein. Specifically, we ask commenters to address the 
Commission's authority under the CVAA to apply the proposed rules to 
this circumstance, and in particular to other entities that offer 
interconnected text messaging service. In this regard, we seek comment 
on how the Commission's ``authority to promulgate regulations to 
implement the recommendations proposed by'' EAAC applies to this 
circumstance. Would the Commission's decision to adopt the proposed 
text-to-911 rules implement EAAC recommendation P4.1, titled ``Interim 
Text Access,'' or recommendation T1.2, titled ``Interim Mobile Text 
Solution''? Are there other

[[Page 1821]]

EAAC recommendations relevant to our authority under Section 615c(g)? 
We also invite comment on how the Commission's authority to promulgate 
``any other regulations, technical standards, protocols, and procedures 
as are necessary to achieve reliable, interoperable communication that 
ensures access by individuals with disabilities to an Internet 
protocol-enabled emergency network, where achievable and technically 
feasible'' applies to these proposals, and in particular to other 
entities that offer interconnected text messaging service.
    170. In addition to the CVAA, we ask commenters to address the 
Commission's authority under Title III, including our authority under 
Sections 301, 303, 307, 309, and 316, to adopt the rules proposed 
herein. We note that, when analyzing our legal authority in the 2011 
Notice, we stated our ``belie[f] that we have well-established legal 
authority under * * * Title III provisions to take the regulatory and 
non-regulatory measures described [t]herein that would apply to users 
of spectrum.'' Since then, the D.C. Circuit provided additional 
guidance regarding the scope of our Title III authority in Cellco 
Partnership v. FCC. We now seek additional comment on our Title III 
authority in light of this decision.
    171. Among other points, we seek comment on whether Title III 
grants the Commission authority to apply the proposed rules to third-
party interconnected text providers and, if so, which specific 
provisions of Title III apply to them. Does the Commission's Title III 
authority over those entities depend on how they offer their service? 
For example, does the FCC's Title III authority over them turn on 
whether the entity holds a Commission's license or other authorization, 
and, if so, whether such authorization is integral to that entity's 
interconnected texting service? Do any third-party interconnected text 
messaging providers hold any such authorizations? We also ask 
commenters to address the Commission's authority to impose regulations 
on CMRS providers that indirectly affect third-party providers. For 
example, does the Commission have authority to require CMRS providers 
to take steps to prevent the use of certain third-party applications 
that do not support text-to-911? If so, would such steps be consistent 
with the Commission's open platform requirements for the 700 MHz C 
Block and other agency precedent?
    172. We also ask commenters to address the Commission's ability to 
rely on its ancillary authority to adopt the rules proposed herein. The 
Commission may act pursuant to its ancillary authority when ``(1) the 
Commission's general jurisdictional grant under Title I [of the 
Communications Act] covers the regulated subject and (2) the 
regulations are reasonably ancillary to the Commission's effective 
performance of its statutorily mandated responsibilities.'' We ask 
commenters to discuss both prongs of this test. Would the Commission's 
decision to adopt the proposed rules be ancillary to certain Title III 
provisions, the CVAA, or other statutory provisions? Is application of 
the proposed rules to all providers of interconnected text-messaging 
services necessary to avoid consumer confusion or achieve the public 
safety benefits associated with applying such rules to CMRS providers? 
We seek comment on these questions.

IV. Procedural Matters

A. Ex Parte Presentations

    173. The proceedings initiated by this Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking shall be treated as a ``permit-but-disclose'' proceedings in 
accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons making ex 
parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a 
memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days 
after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the 
Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations 
are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must: (1) list 
all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at 
which the ex parte presentation was made; and (2) summarize all data 
presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the 
presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data 
or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, 
memoranda, or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may 
provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior 
comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page 
and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in 
lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to 
Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex 
parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). 
In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has 
made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte 
presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, 
and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic 
comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed 
in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). 
Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the 
Commission's ex parte rules.

B. Comment Filing Procedures

    174. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's 
rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and 
reply comments in response to this Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this 
document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic 
Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in 
Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
     Paper Filers: Parties that choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket 
or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number.
    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial 
overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service 
mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, 
Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours 
are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together 
with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be 
disposed of before entering the building.
     Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.

C. Accessible Formats

    175. To request materials in accessible formats for people with 
disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), 
send an email to

[[Page 1822]]

fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 
202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

D. Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    176. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, see 5 
U.S.C. sec. 604, the Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact 
on small entities of the policies and rules addressed in this document. 
The IRFA is set forth in Appendix B. Written public comments are 
requested in the IRFA. These comments must be filed in accordance with 
the same filing deadlines as comments filed in response to this Further 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking as set forth on the first page of this 
document, and have a separate and distinct heading designating them as 
responses to the IRFA.

E. Paperwork Reduction Analysis

    177. The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking contains proposed 
new information collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its 
continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general 
public and OMB to comment on the information collection requirements 
contained in this document, as required by PRA. In addition, pursuant 
to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, we seek specific 
comment on how we might ``further reduce the information collection 
burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.''

V. Ordering Clauses

    178. It is further ordered, pursuant to Sections 1, 2, 4(i), 7, 10, 
201, 214, 222, 251(e), 301, 302, 303, 303(b), 303(r), 307, 307(a), 309, 
309(j)(3), 316, 316(a), 332, 615a, 615a-1, 615b, 615c(a), 615c(c), 
615c(g), and 615(c)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. 
sec. 151, 152(a), 154(i), 157, 160, 201, 214, 222, 251(e), 301, 302, 
303, 303(b), 303(r), 307, 307(a), 309, 309(j)(3), 316, 316(a), 332, 
615a, 615a-1, 615b, 615c, 615c(c), 615c(g), and 615(c)(1) that this 
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is hereby adopted.
    179. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the 
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 20

    Communications common carriers.


Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.

Proposed Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 20 as follows:

PART 20--COMMERCIAL MOBILE SERVICES

0
1. The authority citation for part 20 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 47 U.S.C. 151, 152(a), 154(i), 157, 160, 201, 214, 
222, 251(e), 301, 302, 303, 303(b), 303(r), 307, 307(a), 309, 
309(j)(3), 316, 316(a), 332, 615a, 615a-1, 615b, 615c, 615c(c), 
615c(g), and 615(c)(1).

0
2. Section 20.18 is amended by adding paragraph (n) to read as follows:


Sec.  20.18 911   Service.

* * * * *
    (n) Text-messaging for 911. CMRS providers subject to this section 
and third party interconnected text providers as defined in paragraph 
(n)(6) of this section shall comply with the following requirements:
    (1) CMRS providers subject to this section shall provide an 
automated error text message that notifies consumers attempting to send 
text messages to 911 in areas where text-to-911 is unavailable or in 
other instances where the carrier is unable to transmit the text to the 
PSAP serving the texting party's location for reasons including, but 
not limited to, network congestion, the inability of the PSAP to accept 
such messages, or otherwise. The requirements of this paragraph only 
apply when the CMRS provider (or the CMRS provider's text-to-911 
vendor) has direct control over the transmission of the text message. 
The automatic notification must include information on how to contact 
the PSAP. CMRS providers shall meet the requirements of this paragraph 
no later than June 30, 2013.
    (2) No later than May 15, 2014, CMRS providers shall offer their 
subscribers the capability to send 911 text messages to the appropriate 
PSAP from any text-capable wireless handset.
    (i) CMRS providers must provide their subscribers with at least one 
pre-installed text-to-911 option per mobile device model under a CMRS 
provider's direct control. The pre-installed text-to-911 option must be 
capable of operating over the provider's entire network coverage area. 
Where a consumer has obtained the device from an unaffiliated third 
party and uses the device on a CMRS provider's network, CMRS providers 
must offer a text-to-911 application that the consumer can load on to 
the device.
    (ii) To meet the requirement of paragraph (n)(2) of this section, 
CMRS providers may select any reliable method or methods for text 
routing and delivery. For example, CMRS providers may use Short Message 
Service (SMS), mobile-switched, or Internet Protocol (IP)-based methods 
for text routing and delivery.
    (3) 911 is the designated short code for text messages sent to 
PSAPs.
    (4) CMRS providers must route all 911 text messages to the 
appropriate PSAP, based on the cell sector to which the mobile device 
is connected. In complying with this requirement, CMRS providers must 
route text messages to the same PSAP to which they currently route 911 
calls, unless the responsible local or state entity designates a 
different PSAP to receive 911 text messages and informs the carrier of 
that change.
    (5) Roaming. When a consumer is roaming, both the home and visiting 
network operators must cooperate to support the delivery of the text to 
the appropriate PSAP serving the sender's location.
    (6) Third party interconnected text providers. (i) All third-party 
interconnected text application providers that offer the capability for 
consumers to send to and receive text messages from text-capable mobile 
telephone numbers shall send an automated error text message when a 
user of the application attempts to send an emergency text in an area 
where text-to-911 is not supported or the provider is otherwise unable 
to transmit the text to the PSAP for reasons including, but not limited 
to, network congestion, the inability of the PSAP to accept such 
messages, or otherwise. The automatic error notification must include 
information on how to contact the PSAP. Third party interconnected text 
providers subject to this paragraph shall meet the above requirements 
no later than June 30, 2013.
    (ii) No later than May 15, 2014, all third party interconnected 
text providers that provide the capability for consumers to send to and 
receive text messages from text-capable mobile telephone numbers must 
offer the capability described in paragraph (n)(2) of this section 
during time periods when the mobile device is connected to a CMRS 
network.

[FR Doc. 2013-00159 Filed 1-8-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P