Indoor Cell 911 Location Accuracy Pushed Forward | Courthouse News Service
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Indoor Cell 911 Location Accuracy Pushed Forward

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Federal Communications Commission Wednesday gave cell-phone service providers a timeline to develop technology that pinpoints indoor 911 call location.

The FCC first adopted rules for wireless location accuracy in 1996, and significantly revised the rules in 2010.

Because the majority of 911 calls are now made from cell phones and from indoor locations, the commission found it necessary to address the standards for pinpointing the source of emergency calls.

Last April, the FCC proposed further revisions to its location accuracy rules for public safety answering points (PSAPs), such as 911 call centers.

This week, the FCC finalized the location accuracy rule, which goes into effect in April.

The rule establishes a timetable with deadlines for commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers.

Within two years, 40 percent of all wireless 911 calls are expected to be located within 50 meters of the call, and within six years, providers are expected to increase it to 80 percent.

The rule also lays out standards for vertical location, such as 911 calls made from multi-story buildings.

Within three years, providers will develop a proposed way to measure vertical accuracy and submit the proposal to the FCC.

Providers in six major cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, will report 911 call data to the FCC quarterly. The commission will use that data to evaluate location technology in rural, suburban, and dense urban environments.

Because location technology is changing rapidly, and the problems of accuracy do not have one solution, the FCC noted that its requirements "are technically feasible and technologically neutral, so that providers can choose the most effective solutions from a range of options."

"Our ultimate objective is that all Americans using mobile phones--whether they are calling from urban or rural areas, from indoors or outdoors--have technology that is functionally capable of providing accurate location information so that they receive the support they need in times of emergency," the commission wrote later in the rule. "We also view these requirements as a floor, not a ceiling. We encourage CMRS providers to take advantage of the potential of rapidly-developing location technology to exceed the thresholds and timelines established by this order."

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