AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications, Sprint Nextel Corp and T-Mobile have agreed to provide text-to-911 services, with major deployments expected in 2013, according to a report from the FCC. The service should be available nationwide by May 15, 2014.
Trials of the texting to 911 service are being conducted in Iowa and Vermont now.
“Access to 911 must catch up with how consumers communicate in the 21st century and today, we are one step closer towards that vital goal,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said.
One of the great things about this new service is that endangered people will be able to notify 911 without having to speak. I can imagine that coming into play during a home invasion, for example. Clearly, this service could save lives.
It’s great that the FCC and the 911 service is realizing that today people communicate via text message. The only problem is that while the Big Four have a large percentage (90%) of the market share in the USA, they don’t have 100%. It’s time for the third tier carriers to step up and add emergency texting to 911 too.
The carriers have committed to provide an automatic “bounce back” text message by June 30, 2013 if text-to-911 is unavailable in their area. The message would tell users to make a voice call to a 911 center until the program is rolled out. Sorry guys, that’s a good start, but not enough.