Info Sought on Texting Service for 911 Calls

     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Federal Communications Commission seeks comments on its plans to have texting service available for emergency 911 calls.
     The FCC issued a request for comments on proposed regulations that would require all text message providers to make 911 services available by the end of 2014.
     A growing percentage of 911 calls originate on wireless networks, according to the FCC. One study found that 75 percent of 911 calls in California came from wireless phones, the FCC wrote.
     Also, current trends in mobile wireless usage have shown movement from predominantly voice-driven communication to one based more on data transmissions, according to the FCC.
     In December 2012, four of the largest phone providers agreed to provide text message 911 services by May of 2014. Trial programs in Tennessee and Vermont by AT&T were adopted in the past six months, the FCC wrote.
     The FCC seeks comments on whether its timeframe for text providers is reasonable, especially for those other than the major companies such as Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.
     Regarding smaller providers, and text carriers that only transmit messages within their own networks, the FCC seeks comments on the technical aspects of their 911 capabilities and the cost of making it available by the end of the year.
     "We recognize ... there are many varieties of text messaging applications, and many more varieties are likely to develop," the FCC wrote.
     "As these applications continue to grow in popularity, however, we expect that consumer habits will change, and with them, their expectations as to the functionality of these applications may also change. We seek comment on the varieties of messaging applications."
     Comments are due by April 4.