Problems with 911 calls from cell phones

Remarks of

Commissioner Rosenworcel

While at a call center in Little Rock I found 911 using your wireless phone in the corner of the 911 call center your call will not get

routed to Little Rock. Instead, it will be answered by a 911 call center in North Little Rock all

the way on the other side of the Arkansas River.

That’s unnerving. Because when you make a 911 call location accuracy matters. That kind of imprecision from calling 911 with a wireless phone should make all of us concerned.

Because when emergency strikes and you call 911 from any phone—including a wireless phone—you want first responders to find you.

This matters—a lot. Today, more than 70 percent of 911 calls are from wireless phones. That is more than 400,000 calls across the country every day. And this number is only going to get bigger. Because for roughly 2 in 5 households right now, their wireless phone is their only phone. Here in Louisiana it is a little more than 1 in 3. In Arkansas, where I was last year, one half of all adults and 60 percent of all children now live in a home without a landline phone. So wireless calling to 911 is here to stay—and poised to grow.

But our rules that provide first responders with information about where we are when we call 911 are stranded in calling practices of the last century.

So today, under the FCC’s rules,

1. if you call 911 from a wired phone, first responders know where you are and where to send help. (Still provide your address as the land-line database is not fully reliable)

2. If you call 911 from a wireless phone outdoors, the FCC has standards that help ensure first responders can locate you and send assistance.

3. But if you call 911 from a wireless phone indoors, you should cross your fingers and hope and pray, because no location accuracy standards apply.

Best way to protect yourself is to follow these standards.

Source: Remarks of Commissioner Rosenworcel, APCO International Conference