FCC is requiring text-to-911 on all carriers – most 911 centers can’t receive them!

By the end of the year, carriers will be required to route all of your emergency texts to 911. The problem is most emergency services agencies aren’t yet equipped to receive them.

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to require all mobile carriers to route text messages sent to 911 to local emergency response centers — just like phone calls — by the end of the year. The decision might not have much of an impact though.

The big four operators have already implemented text-to-911 voluntarily, though many smaller operators have not. But the big issues is that only about 2 percent of 911 response centers are capable of receiving SMS, so most emergency messages just get sent into the ether (though carriers are required to notify such texters that their messages weren’t received).

The FCC also now requires over-the-top messaging apps linked to phone numbers must all support 911. That means an app that works within the phone’s SMS client such as iMessage must be able to send 911 texts, but a social messaging app like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp does not.

Always heartwarming to realize that a government agency chartered to deal with modern communications handles its tasks about as well as Congress.

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