Washington, D.C. – FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced today that the nation’s four largest wireless carriers – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile – have agreed to accelerate the availability of text-to-911, with major deployments expected in 2013 and a commitment to nationwide availability by May 15, 2014.
Text-to-911 will provide consumers with enhanced access to emergency communications in situations where a voice call could endanger the caller, or a person with disabilities is unable to make a voice call. Text-to-911 will be a complement to, not a substitute for, voice calls to 911 services, and consumers should always make a voice call to 911 during an emergency if they can.
In addition, to help eliminate consumer confusion while text-to-911 capability is being phased-in, the carriers have committed to provide an automatic “bounce back” text message to notify consumers if their attempt to reach 911 via text message was unsuccessful because this service is not yet available in their area. Such a message would instruct the recipient to make a voice call to a 911 center. The four carriers will fully implement this “bounce back” capability across their networks by June 30, 2013.