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FCC toughens E911 regulations

A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned that the FCC was fining wireless companies that did not comply with 911 regulations. Companies were to be at 95 percent compliance by December of 2005. Notably, Alltel, Sprint, and US Cellular failed to do this, and were punished by the FCC. More fines may be in the future, as the FCC has released more stringent E911 rules, ones that don’t allow companies to pull deceptive tactics to feign compliance.

US wireless carriers will have to ensure E911 coverage for 95% of their subscriber base at each Public Service Answering Point (PSAP). The new requirement changes the way coverage is measured – moving from a state average to a more specific, local average. Carriers were taking advantage of the old, state-averaging system by boosting coverage in areas with high subscriber-counts and neglecting more rural areas.

Wow, so the FCC did something noble. Seriously, though, if we’re going to have these E911 regulations (and we should), we should make sure that we have it right. There’s absolutely no sense in allowing companies to skirt regulations because of loopholes. That undermines the entire idea.

No longer will wireless companies be able to manipulate their figures by boosting coverage in metropolitan areas — those with the most subscribers. So they’ll have to pay just as much attention to the folks in Branson, Missouri, which is the way it should be. Just because they don’t generate as much profit doesn’t mean they’re not people.

The deadline for full compliance is September 11, 2011. We’re not sure why they needed a symbolic deadline. Anyway, there will be yearly benchmarks as well, so carriers won’t be able to get away with doing a rush job in August of 2011.

[Into Mobile]