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  • FCC Proposes Initiative Asking Apple and Other Wireless Services to Provide Text-to-911


    The U.S. Federal Communications Commission recently proposed a set of guidelines regarding emergency text-to-911 messages that would require cellular carrier and internet-based messaging providers like Apple to support the initiative. According to the new statement from the FCC, the body hopes to add messaging services like Apple’s Messages app to an existing voluntary commitment from the four largest U.S. cellular carriers, all of which promised to activate text-to-911 capabilities by 2014. The FCC said the following:

    Implementing text-to-911 will keep pace with how consumers communicate today and can provide a lifesaving alternative in situations where a person with a hearing or speech disability is unable to make a voice call, where voice networks are congested, or where a 911 voice call could endanger the caller.
    In its proposal, the Commission calls for “over the top” text messaging apps or those that support sending texts to phone numbers and allow for the transmission of emergency messages to 911 call centers. Apple’s Messages, formerly called iMessage is a prime example of a so-called “over the top” app as the service is data-based and doesn’t even rely on a cellular network’s SMS assets. The purpose behind the whole initiative is a smooth transition into what the FCC calls “Next-generation 911,” or the move to cutting-edge communications that will reportedly enhance how first responders react to emergency situations. As of right now, messaging apps are seen as a natural evolutions to texts as an increasing number of mobile users are choosing data-based alternatives to SMS and MMS. According to the FCC:

    By proposing to extend text-to-911 requirements to certain “over the top” applications [...] the FCC’s proposal would ensure that as text messaging evolves, consumers will be able to reach 911 by the same texting methods they use every day.
    The idea of including additional services such as Apple’s Messages app is likely due to a previous report, which showed that Messages is causing a decline in U.S. texts for the first time in years, suggestions the proliferation of smartphones and tablets in taking a toll on the longstanding SMS protocol. The Cupertino California company recently expanded the cross-platform capabilities of Messages with an updated OS X version in Mountain Lion 10.8.2, which allows the Mac client to receive messages sent to a user’s phone number as well.

    It definitely seems like having such a feature could come in quite handy for those who are in trouble. After thinking about it some, it seems like a bit of a surprise that such a feature hasn’t already been implemented. Either way, I’m glad to see that the necessary steps to get the initiative rolling are in motion.

    Source: FCC via AppleInsider
    This article was originally published in forum thread: FCC Proposes Initiative Asking Apple and Other Wireless Services to Provide Text-to-911 started by Akshay Masand View original post
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. AKCHRIS's Avatar
      AKCHRIS -
      I like this Idea, the fact that you might be incapable of talking on the phone for what EVER the reason makes this Option VERY useful.
    1. rockyseay's Avatar
      rockyseay -
      Lets go FCC!! This is a great idea.
    1. STM127's Avatar
      STM127 -
      AT&T and the state of Tennessee currently have this program in the trial phase. I want to try it out because I have a completely unfounded fear of it not working if I ever potentially needed it.

      I think I will text 911 when I see a car accident next.
    1. thetoothfairy's Avatar
      thetoothfairy -
      I'd rather call 911 if needed however I would like this option as well.....
    1. GenesisDH's Avatar
      GenesisDH -
      Great! This would've helped me a couple times in the last year had it been in place. People who are harassing others don't respond nicely to the harassed being on the phone with dispatch.
    1. bmwraw8482's Avatar
      bmwraw8482 -
      I hope 911 turns their iMessage read receipts on
    1. brownlace's Avatar
      brownlace -
      Sounds like a great idea.