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Cybersecurity & Standards

Comments to the FCC on Technical Considerations for Next-Generation 911

The ability for users to summon help in an emergency has long been a critical aspect of the telecommunications system, embodied in the United States by the decades-long tradition of 911 as a national, unified emergency number. Although more and more communications are conducted using Internet technologies (i.e., media based on the Internet Protocol, or IP), the 911 system will need to adapt to leverage the Internet as well.

One of the most challenging aspects of the NG911 transition will be the process of enabling the many thousands of Internet applications active today to communicate with 911 authorities. In his addendum to the NOI, Chairman Genachowski noted that with modern phones, “you can pretty much text anyone except a 9-1-1 call center.” This comment is especially true for Inter- net applications: Users of these applications can communicate using voice, text, video, or even 3-D virtual reality, but except in a few very special cases, they cannot establish any sort of communication to a 9-1-1 call center.