[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 209 (Tuesday, October 29, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 64404-64407]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-25274]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 20

[PS Docket Nos. 11-153 and 10-255; FCC 13-127]


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

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission 
(Commission) amends the text-to-911 ``bounce-back'' requirement as it 
applies to Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers when 
consumers are roaming. In the May 2013 Bounce-Back Order, FCC 13-64, 
the Commission required all CMRS providers and providers of 
interconnected text messaging services to provide an automatic 
``bounce-back'' text message in situations where a consumer attempts to 
send a text message to 911 in a location where text-to-911 is not 
available. This document amends the rule to specify that when a 
consumer attempts to send a text to 911 while roaming on a CMRS 
network, the CMRS provider offering roaming service (host provider) 
satisfies its bounce-back obligation provided that it does not impede 
the consumer's text to the consumer's home network provider (home 
provider) or impede any bounce-back message generated by the home 
provider back to the consumer.

DATES: Effective October 29, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nicole McGinnis, Federal 
Communications Commission, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, 
445 12th Street SW., Room 7-A814, Washington, DC 20554. Telephone: 
(202) 418-2877, email: nicole.mcginnis@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Order 
on Reconsideration, PS Docket Nos. 11-153, 10-255; FCC 13-127, adopted 
September 27, 2013 and released September 30, 2013. The full text of 
this document is available for public inspection and copying during 
normal business hours in the FCC's Reference Information Center at 
Portals II, CY-A257, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. This 
document will also be available via ECFS (http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/) or on the Commission's Web site at http://www.fcc.gov/document/text-911-bounce-back-message-order. This document may be purchased from 
the Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 
445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, telephone 1-
800-478-3160 or via the company's Web site, http://www.bcpiweb.com.

I. Background

    1. Bounce-Back Order. In the Bounce-Back Order, the Commission 
required ``all CMRS providers to provide an automatic bounce-back 
message when a consumer roaming on a network initiates a text-to-911 in 
an area where text-to-911 service is not available.'' Given the 
important public safety implications of the bounce-back requirement, 
the Commission stated that ``carriers should make automatic bounce-back 
messages available to consumers roaming on their network to the same 
extent they provide such messages to their own subscribers.'' 
Accordingly, the bounce-back rule in Sec.  20.18(n) of the Commission's 
rules contains a specific subsection relating to roaming. Section 
20.18(n)(7) currently provides that: ``A CMRS provider subject to Sec.  
20.12 shall provide an automatic bounce-back message to any consumer 
roaming on its network who sends a text message to 911 when (i) the 
consumer is located in an area where text-to-911 service is 
unavailable, or (ii) the CMRS provider does not support text-to-911 
service at the time.''
    2. CTIA Petition. On June 28, 2013, CTIA filed a petition for 
reconsideration, or in the alternative, for clarification, of the 
roaming provision of the Bounce-Back Order. CTIA's core concern is that 
in a situation where a wireless consumer attempts to send a text to 911 
while roaming on a CMRS provider's network, Sec.  20.18(n)(7) could be 
read to impose an obligation on the host provider to originate a 
bounce-back message, which CTIA contends is technically infeasible for 
the host provider. CTIA claims that in current network architecture for 
Short Message Service (SMS) texting, only the consumer's home provider 
has the technical ability to initiate a bounce-back message when the 
consumer is roaming on another network. CTIA also contends that Sec.  
20.18(n)(7) was adopted ``with minimal discussion of the rule's 
practicality or technical feasibility.'' CTIA therefore requests that 
the Commission either eliminate Sec.  20.18(n)(7) or, in the 
alternative, clarify that Sec.  20.18(n)(7) ``applies only to home 
network operators.'' CTIA further suggests that the clarification could 
be accomplished by deleting Sec.  20.18(n)(7) and adding language to 
Sec.  20.18(n)(3), which specifies the circumstances under which a 
covered text provider must provide an automatic bounce-back message, to 
state that the bounce-back requirement applies where the consumer is 
roaming on the network of another CMRS provider. CTIA states that ``the 
relief it requests will not prevent wireless subscribers who are 
roaming from receiving a bounce-back message'' but merely seeks to 
``allocate carrier responsibilities in a way that aligns with technical 
realities.''
    3. Responsive Pleadings. On July 11, 2013, the Commission released 
a Public Notice seeking comment on the Petition. Several parties filed 
in support of the CTIA petition. AT&T supports the Commission 
``clarifying that, while covered text providers must send a bounce-back 
message alerting end users that text-to-911 is unavailable, it is the 
Home Carrier (and not the Host Carrier) that is responsible for sending 
that bounce-back message when the end user is texting while roaming on 
another carrier's network.'' T-Mobile similarly contends that, in a 
roaming scenario, the host provider will automatically pass an

[[Page 64405]]

attempted text to 911 to the consumer's home provider, which will then 
generate a bounce-back message that will be delivered, via the roaming 
network, to the consumer. Changes to this architecture, T-Mobile 
argues, are ``simply not feasible.'' T-Mobile opines that ``the 
Commission did not intend to create a mandate for serving carriers in 
Sec.  20.18(n)(7) but rather intended to ensure that serving carriers 
do not prevent home carriers from generating bounce-back messages for 
their roaming subscribers.'' Therefore, T-Mobile urges the Commission 
to ``either issue an erratum correcting the rule or clarify that Sec.  
20.18(n)(7) does not apply to serving [i.e., roaming] carriers.''
    4. Two other commenting parties, Blooston Rural Carriers (Blooston) 
and NCTA, support not requiring host providers to provide a bounce-back 
message to a roaming consumer at this time, based on current technical 
considerations. Blooston agrees with CTIA that origination of a bounce-
back message by a roaming provider is technically infeasible. Blooston 
further argues that the Commission should not require home providers to 
originate a bounce-back message in this scenario because the home 
provider cannot determine the location of the consumer on the host 
provider's network, and therefore cannot determine whether the PSAP 
serving the consumer's location supports text-to-911. Thus, Blooston 
argues that the bounce-back rule should not apply to consumers while 
roaming until a technological solution can be worked out by industry 
standard-setting bodies that would enable the home provider to 
determine the consumer's location on the host provider's network. NCTA 
similarly argues that implementation of the roaming portion of the 
bounce-back rule should be delayed until a technical solution is 
developed by standards-setting bodies and implemented.
    5. APCO filed an opposition to the Petition, arguing that CTIA has 
failed to demonstrate that complying with the Commission's rule is not 
technically feasible. APCO objects that CTIA's proposal would result in 
all roaming customers receiving a bounce-back message even in 
situations where the roaming consumer is located in an area where the 
local PSAP accepts text-to-911. APCO contends that if a roaming 
consumer is in an area where the PSAP supports text-to-911, the home 
and host providers should be required to deliver the consumer's text to 
the PSAP rather than sending a bounce-back message. APCO argues that 
delivery of a text-to-911 from a roaming customer to the PSAP serving 
the customer's area is technically feasible under existing standards. 
In reply, CTIA disputes APCO's contention that a technical solution 
exists to support routing of 911 texts from roaming customers to PSAPs. 
CTIA also argues that the issues APCO raises regarding the feasibility 
of text-to-9-1-1 while roaming ``are directed at the second part of the 
NPRM, which is still pending before the Commission.''
    6. In an ex parte filing, NENA states that it does not oppose 
CTIA's petition. While NENA supports implementation of a ``ubiquitous'' 
text-to-911 solution that works ``regardless of whether the subscriber 
is attached to a home or a roaming network,'' it agrees that CTIA's 
position with respect to the ``limited question of which party should 
be responsible for delivering a bounce-back message'' in a roaming 
scenario is consistent with current technology and the understanding 
reached by NENA, APCO, and the four major wireless carriers in their 
December 2012 voluntary text-to-911 agreement. CTIA also provides 
further clarification in an ex parte filing, noting the technical 
infeasibility of a host network provider to `` `transmit' the text-to-
911 of a consumer roaming on the host network to the covered text 
provider home network and the home network's responding `bounce[-]back' 
message due to the store-and-forward nature of CMRS provided SMS 
services.'' CTIA also notes that ``a covered home network text 
provider's obligation to provide any bounce back message should account 
for whether the home network operates `in the area' that a consumer 
initiates the text-to-911, and not only whether the covered home 
network text provider supports text-to-911 services at that time.''

II. Discussion

    7. In the Bounce-Back Order, the Commission sought to ensure that 
the carrier with direct control of a consumer's attempted text message 
to 911 would be responsible for delivering the bounce-back message in 
circumstances where text-to-911 is unavailable. The Commission is 
persuaded by the technical representations made in the record that 
under the current technical standard developed for SMS-based texting to 
911, the home provider alone has control over sending a consumer a 
required bounce-back message. Current network architecture is such 
that, when a roaming consumer sends an SMS message, that message is 
routed first to the home provider, which has control over the further 
routing of that SMS message to its intended recipient. It is therefore 
the home provider that has direct control over the delivery of the SMS 
message to its intended recipient. Thus, the Commission agrees with 
CTIA that based on current network architecture, it would be 
technically challenging for a host provider to originate a bounce-back 
message to a roaming consumer.
    8. Accordingly, the Commission amends Sec.  20.18(n)(7) to reflect 
that the host provider must not impede the consumer's text message to 
911 to the consumer's home provider and/or any bounce-back message 
generated by the home provider back to the consumer. The host provider 
is not under any obligation to originate a bounce-back message to the 
consumer or otherwise ensure that the home provider generates a bounce-
back message in response to the consumer's text to 911.
    9. As revised, Sec.  20.18(n)(7) specifies that a host provider 
shall not impede the text message to 911 of a consumer roaming on its 
network and/or impede any bounce-back message originated by the home 
provider to that roaming consumer. It is the home provider's 
responsibility to generate the bounce-back message. This apportionment 
of responsibility between the roaming and home providers assures that 
consumers receive potentially lifesaving bounce-back messages, while 
taking into account the technical realities of current network 
architecture. The revised language also accounts for whether the home 
provider is supporting text-to-911 in the area where the consumer 
initiates a text message to 911.
    10. The Commission denies CTIA's petition to the extent it seeks 
elimination of Sec.  20.18(n)(7) of the bounce-back rule. In light of 
its amendment of the rule, the Commission finds that compliance with 
the rule is technically feasible and does not raise the concerns 
referenced in CTIA's petition. The Commission finds that there was 
adequate notice to adopt the rule and that, as amended, the rule is 
consistent with the record in the underlying proceeding. The Commission 
does not agree with Blooston that it should eliminate the roaming 
portion of the bounce-back rule in its entirety or otherwise defer 
implementation of the rule. The bounce-back requirement addresses an 
important public safety interest in providing consumers immediate 
notification of non-delivery of their text to the PSAP. To eliminate 
bounce-back messaging in roaming situations would risk leaving roaming 
consumers without information as to whether their text reached the 
appropriate PSAP, potentially endangering them by preventing or 
delaying their attempt to

[[Page 64406]]

reach 911 through another means. The Commission's amendment of the rule 
provides for a technically and economically feasible apportionment of 
responsibilities for roaming and home providers, while preserving the 
important public safety interests of the original rule.
    11. With respect to APCO's argument that host providers should be 
able to route consumer texts to 911 to the appropriate PSAP, the 
Commission notes that the questions APCO raises about the technical 
feasibility of requiring host providers to route texts to 911 are part 
of the broader and still-pending portion of the Commission's rulemaking 
proceeding. Therefore, the Commission does not address these issues in 
this order, but reserves them for consideration in the next phase of 
the proceeding. Today's order is limited in scope to the limited issue 
of how responsibility is apportioned for delivering bounce-back 
messages to consumers when those consumers are roaming.
    12. Finally, in order to effectuate the modifications described 
herein, the Commission waives Sec.  20.18(n)(7) on its own motion, 
pending the effective date of the amended rule. In light of the 
potential technical difficulties associated with complying with Sec.  
20.18(n)(7) as originally drafted, the Commission concludes there is 
good cause to waive application of this portion of the bounce-back rule 
until the effective date of the amendments adopted in this order. The 
remainder of Sec.  20.18(n), which was published in the Federal 
Register and took effect on June 28, 2013, remains in full force and 
effect. Accordingly, except as provided in this order, covered text 
providers must begin providing bounce-back messages in accordance with 
the rule no later than September 30, 2013. In addition, as discussed 
below, the Commission determines that amended version of Sec.  
20.18(n)(7) will take effect on publication in the Federal Register. 
Therefore, covered text providers must begin complying with Sec.  
20.18(n)(7) as of that date.

III. Procedural Matters

A. Effective Date

    13. The Commission concludes that good cause exists to make the 
effective date of the modifications adopted in this Order on 
Reconsideration effective October 29, 2013, pursuant to section 
553(d)(3) of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). 
Agencies determining whether there is good cause to make a rule 
revision take effect less than 30 days after Federal Register 
publication must balance the necessity for immediate implementation 
against principles of fundamental fairness that require that all 
affected persons be afforded a reasonable time to prepare for the 
effective date of a new rule. Given the public safety need for bounce-
back messaging and the relative lack of any additional burden imposed 
by this Order on Reconsideration, there is good cause to make these 
amendments effective immediately upon Federal Register publication. 
Indeed, given that covered text providers must begin generating 
automatic bounce-back messages outside of the roaming context beginning 
no later than September 30, 2013, and given that no party has argued 
that the modifications to the Sec.  20.18(n)(7) requirement raised by 
the CTIA Petition would require additional time to comply with, the 
Commission finds that good cause exists to make the modifications to 
Sec.  20.18(n)(7) effective immediately upon their publication in the 
Federal Register.

B. Paperwork Reduction Act

    14. This document does not contain new or modified information 
collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 
(PRA). Therefore the Order on Reconsideration does not contain any new 
or modified information collection burdens for small businesses with 
fewer than 25 employees, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork 
Relief Act of 2002.

C. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    15. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires that agencies 
prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis for notice-and-comment 
rulemaking proceedings, unless the agency certifies that ``the rule 
will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities.'' The RFA defines ``small entity'' as having the same 
meaning as the terms ``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and 
``small governmental jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small 
business'' has the same meaning as the term ``small business concern'' 
under the Small Business Act. A small business concern is one which: 
(1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its 
field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria 
established by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
    16. The Commission hereby certifies that this Order on 
Reconsideration will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. The Commission will send a copy 
of this Order on Reconsideration, including this certification, to the 
Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. In 
addition, the Order on Reconsideration (or a summary thereof) and 
certification will be published in the Federal Register.

D. Congressional Review Act

    17. The Commission will send a copy of this Order on 
Reconsideration to Congress and the Government Accountability Office 
pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

E. Accessible Formats

    18. Accessible formats of this Order on Reconsideration (Braille, 
large print, electronic files, audio format) are available to persons 
with disabilities by sending an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or by calling 
the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice) 202-
418-0432 (TTY). This Order on Reconsideration can also be downloaded at 
http://www.fcc.gov.

IV. Ordering Clause

    19. Accordingly, it is ordered pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 301, 
303(b), 303(f), 303(g), 303(r), 307, 316, 319, 324, 332, 333, 405, 
615a, 615a-1, and 615b of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 
47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 301, 303(b), 303(f), 303(g), 303(r), 307, 316, 
319, 324, 332, 333, 405(a), 615a, 615a-1, and 615b, and Sec. Sec.  1.2 
and 1.429(a) of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.2, 1.429(a), that 
Petition for Reconsideration, or in the Alternative, for Clarification 
filed by CTIA--the Wireless Association, PS Docket Nos. 11-153 and 10-
255 on June 28, 2013 is granted to the extent provided herein and 
otherwise denied.
    20. It is further ordered that the modifications to 47 CFR 
20.18(n)(7) specified in this Order on Reconsideration shall be 
effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register.
    21. It is further ordered that, pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.3, 1.4, 
1.103, and 1.427 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.3, 1.4, 1.103, and 
1.427, the requirements of 47 CFR 20.18(n)(7) are waived to the extent 
and for the time period specified herein.
    22. It is further ordered that, pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.3, 1.4, 
1.103, and 1.427 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.3, 1.4, 1.103, and 
1.427, the waiver of 47 CFR 20.18(n)(7) specified herein is effective 
immediately upon release of this Order on Reconsideration.
    23. It is further ordered that the Commission shall send a copy of 
the Order on Reconsideration to Congress and the Government 
Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.

[[Page 64407]]

    24. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of this Order on Reconsideration to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy 
of the Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 20

    Communications common carriers, Communications equipment, Radio.

Federal Communications Commission.
Sheryl D Todd,
Deputy Secretary.

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

PART 20--COMMERCIAL MOBILE SERVICES

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

    Authority: 47 U.S.C. 151, 154, 160, 201, 251-254, 301, 303, 
303(b), 303(r), 307, 309, 316, 319, 324, 332, 333, 615a, 615a-1, 
615b, and 615c unless otherwise noted. Section 20.12 is also issued 
under 47 U.S.C. 1302.


0
2. Section 20.18 is amended by revising paragraph (n)(7) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  20.18  911 Service.

* * * * *
    (n) * * *
    (7) Notwithstanding any other provisions in this section, when a 
consumer is roaming on a covered text provider's host network pursuant 
to Sec.  20.12, the covered text provider operating the consumer's home 
network shall have the obligation to originate an automatic bounce-back 
message to such consumer when the consumer is located in an area where 
text-to-911 service is unavailable, or the home provider does not 
support text-to-911 service in that area at the time. The host provider 
shall not impede the consumer's 911 text message to the home provider 
and/or any automatic bounce-back message originated by the home 
provider to the consumer roaming on the host network.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2013-25274 Filed 10-28-13; 8:45 am]
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