APCO and NENA reach concensus plan with major wireless carriers

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Dispatchable location provides address or other critical location information for first responders

On November 14, NENA, APCO, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless announced a consensus plan to meet the FCC’s challenge to improve 9-1-1 indoor location accuracy. The industry has long relied on the public safety expertise at NENA and APCO to find solutions to location accuracy challenges. This agreement builds on that long-term partnership and recognizes that improved indoor location accuracy can be achieved through readily-available indoor location technologies, which will provide field responders with the information they want and need: a dispatchable location. The proposed solution harnesses the availability of Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth® technologies that are already deployed and expected to expand significantly in the near term.

Since 1996, the FCC required a wireless 9-1-1 call to include location information based on outdoor technologies. Increasingly, wireless 9-1-1 calls moved indoors creating challenges for outdoor-based solutions. The FCC called on the wireless industry and public safety community to develop a consensus approach to this important 9-1-1 issue. Through these aggressive and measureable location accuracy commitments based on actual 9-1-1 calls, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, working with public safety partners NENA and APCO, have answered the call.

The solution involves an agreed upon timeline to:

  • Verify technologies and vendor performance for indoor and outdoor technologies in a test bed;
  • Accelerate the delivery of dispatchable location using indoor technologies with ambitious milestones for demonstration, standards development, and implementation of database and handset capabilities; and
  • Improves existing location technologies for better outdoor and indoor location fixes.

“This agreement represents a blueprint for the improvement of 9-1-1 location accuracy, both indoors and outdoors,” said NENA President Christy Williams. “NENA looks forward to working with APCO and the carriers over the established timeframes to develop the details of the blueprint that will ultimately better serve the needs of all who dial 9-1-1, indoors or out.”

“CTIA congratulates AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless and public safety partners on the announcement of this historic agreement,” said Meredith Attwell Baker, President and CEO, CTIA. “A 9-1-1 call is the most important call a wireless consumer makes. This agreement represents meaningful, significant and achievable goals to provide first responders with the information they need to respond to wireless 9-1-1 calls. The FCC issued our industry a challenge, and we are proud of our ability to deliver a clear road map to critical 9-1-1 enhancements that meet the high standards and requirements of our nation’s leading public safety organizations.”

APCO Executive Director Derek Poarch said, “APCO is very appreciative of the professionalism and dedication of its partners in achieving a consensus solution that we can all be proud of and that, most importantly, will provide meaningful location information to our nation’s dedicated and hardworking public safety communications professionals and first responders as they daily serve the emergency needs of their citizens.”

This agreement defines dispatchable location as the civic address of the calling party plus additional information such as floor, suite, apartment or similar information that may be needed to adequately identify the location of the calling party.

As part of the agreement, the carrier signatories will obtain a location fix using heightened location accuracy technologies for the following percentage of wireless 9-1-1 calls from the date of the agreement based on live call data:

i) 40% of all wireless 9-1-1 calls within two years;
ii) 50% of all wireless 9-1-1 calls within three years;
iii) 75% of all VoLTE wireless 9-1-1 calls within five years; and
iv) 80% of all VoLTE wireless 9-1-1 calls within six years.

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