Federal Communications Commission adopts rules to improve routing of wireless 9-1-1 calls

July 1, 2024
Emergency Call Centre Dispatch

New Federal Communications Commission rules aim to reduce 9-1-1 call misrouting

As reported by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), on January 26, 2024, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a report and order to increase the precision of routing wireless 9-1-1 calls to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).

Historically, 9-1-1 calls were routed based on the location of the cell tower handling the call.

This often led to misrouting, requiring calls to be transferred between PSAPs to reach the correct jurisdiction, causing delays in emergency response times.

Under the new rules, wireless providers must implement technology using the caller’s IP network to provide accurate location-based routing.

This ensures the correct PSAP receives the call, reducing transfer times and improving emergency response efficiency.

The FCC estimates the cost of the program at up to $215 million, with expected benefits totaling $173 billion by eliminating call transfer times and reducing related fatalities.

Timeline for implementation and cost-benefit analysis

National wireless providers are required to have location-based routing programs in place for wireless calls by November 13, 2024, and for real-time texts by May 13, 2026.

Non-national wireless providers must meet the same deadline for both wireless calls and texts by May 13, 2026.

The FCC anticipates annual savings of up to $74.3 million for PSAPs due to the reduction in the need to reroute 9-1-1 calls.

Additionally, over 1.3 million 9-1-1 calls will no longer be at risk of misrouting, which will cut response times by at least one minute.

The new rules are expected to benefit both urban and rural areas, with rural regions like those in Arkansas, where up to 30 percent of 9-1-1 calls are misrouted, seeing significant improvements.

Impact on fire departments and emergency response

The new FCC rules are designed to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency response operations.

With fewer misrouted calls, fire departments and other emergency services can respond more swiftly to incidents.

This improvement is crucial in rural areas where misrouting is more prevalent.

The IAFC has expressed gratitude to the FCC for advancing this proposal.

The organization will continue to monitor the FCC’s efforts on Location-Based Routing for 9-1-1 calls and support measures that improve operational efficiency for its members.

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