The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) recently announced its Enforcement Bureau is conducting an inquiry into several wireless providers’ compliance with FCC rules that require them to start delivering 911 callers’ vertical location (“z-axis”) information by April 3, 2021. Vertical location is critical to helping first responders quickly locate 911 wireless callers, particularly in buildings taller than three stories.
In response the FCC’s announcement Acting IAFC President, Chief Kenneth Stuebing, said:
The ability to process accurate vertical 911 location information will save firefighters crucial time that is often the difference between life and death. It will enable them to quickly evaluate a scene and significantly reduce the time and effort needed to locate a 911 caller in need of assistance. Every day the April 3 deadline is delayed is a day that fire and emergency service personnel are placed at additional unnecessary risk, which is unacceptable. I am encouraged by Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s decision to refer these carriers to enforcement for missing this key deadline and hope the FCC will continue to recognize the need for first responders to receive this information forthwith.
This announcement was in response to Petitions for Waiver that Verizon, T-Mobil USA Inc. and AT&T Services Inc. filed with the FCC requesting an eighteen-month extension to Section 9.10(i)(2)(ii)(C) and Section 9.10(i)(2)(iii) of the FCC’s rules. Section 9.10(i)(2)(ii)(C) requires nationwide Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers to deploy either dispatchable location or z-axis technology in the top 25 cellular market areas (CMAs) by April 3, 2021. Section 9.10(i)(2)(iii) requires providers to certify their compliance with the requirements in section 9.10(i)(2)(ii)(C) sixty days thereafter.
The IAFC fought hard for the commission to issue the rules in Section 9.10(i)(2)(ii)(C) and Section 9.10(i)(2)(iii) and strongly opposed Verizon, T-Mobil and AT&T’s petitions for an 18-month extension. Since these petitions were filed, the IAFC met with Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s office and other FCC officials multiple times reminding them of the importance and lifesaving capability of accurate z-axis information. We will continue to closely monitor the FCC Enforcement Bureau’s inquiry into the carriers who missed the April 3 deadline.
Ryan Woodward is a government relations manager for the IAFC.