For most people these days, getting in touch with friends or family might mean sending an email or Facebook message or making a Skype call. But in an emergency, many people still have only one choice: to pick up a phone and call 9-1-1. With its recently released Notice of Inquiry about “Next Generation” (NG) 911, the FCC is looking for ways to bring the 911 system into the 21st century, specifically by enabling connectivity between Internet-based services and the emergency calling infrastructure.
We’re pleased to see the FCC promoting an effective and technologically advanced emergency communications infrastructure. However, as we noted in comments submitted to the Commission yesterday, there are a number of aspects of the transition to NG911 that require special care. First, the FCC should avoid actions that would discourage developers and providers of new IP-based services from seeking to connect those services into the NG911 system. By setting very high or rigid requirements for services to be able to communicate into the NG911 system, the Commission might inadvertently reduce the ability of future technology users to connect to the emergency system. If the NG911 system has such specific requirements that only a few “new” services can comply, then in 10 or 15 years we may find ourselves right back where we are today – with an outdated emergency system that has been left behind by advancing technology.
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