This News Release: Text | Word97
Statements: Commissioner Tristani

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Federal Communications Commission
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Washington, D.C. 20554
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

SEPTEMBER 15, 1999

Meribeth McCarrick at (202) 418-0654


Washington, D.C. ---The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has revised its rules aimed at providing consumers with enhanced 911 emergency services when using wireless phones. The new requirements promote public safety, competition among wireless 911 equipment manufacturers and the continued improvement in the quality of 911 services.

Specifically, the new rules will enable handset-based methods of providing location information for 911 calls to compete in a reasonable way with network-based solutions in meeting the FCC's Enhanced 911 (E911) Phase II requirements. The FCC also modified implementation requirements for carriers and revised the accuracy/reliability rules applicable to all Automatic Location Identification (ALI) technologies. These new rules will benefit both callers and public safety entities by providing accurate and efficient automatic location information in emergencies.

Background on E911:

The FCC's wireless 911 rules seek both to improve the reliability of wireless 911 services and to provide the enhanced features generally available for wireline calls. To further these goals, the agency has required wireless carriers to implement E911 service, subject to certain conditions and schedules, including a request from a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). Phase I of the FCC's E911 rules requires that a dialable number accompany each 911 call, which allows the PSAP dispatcher to call back if the call is disconnected or to obtain additional information. It also gives the dispatcher the location at the cell site that received the call as a rough indication of the caller's location. Phase II of the FCC's wireless 911 rules allows the dispatcher to know more precisely where the caller is located, a capability called Automatic Location Identification or ALI.

The current FCC E911 rules were adopted in 1996, and reflected then current expectations about technological development. At that time, it was anticipated that only network-based approaches would be employed to provide ALI. Since then advances in technologies that employ new or upgraded handsets have demonstrated significant progress. However, as a practical matter, current FCC rules only permit network-based solutions to meet the Phase II requirements in the short term because they require that ALI be provided for all 911 calls in a PSAP's area as of a fixed date (October 1, 2001). As a result, the current rule effectively precludes use of a handset-based approach, which requires the gradual replacement or upgrade of current handsets. Today the FCC revised its rules to permit the phase-in of new or upgraded handsets in order for handset-based solutions to be a viable competitor for initial ALI deployment under Phase II, while making other revisions aimed at promoting wireless E911 and improving public safety.

Specifics of Today's Action:

The FCC adopted the following revisions to its wireless E911 rules:

  • Wireless carriers who employ a Phase II location technology that requires new, modified or upgraded handsets (such as GPS-based technologies) may phase-in deployment of Phase II subject to the following requirements:

    - Without respect to any PSAP request for Phase II deployment, the carrier shall:

    1. Begin selling and activating ALI-capable handsets no later than March 1, 2001;
    2. Ensure that at least 50 percent of all new handsets activated are ALI-capable no later than October 1, 2001; and
    3. Ensure that at least 95 percent of all new digital handsets activated are ALI- capable no later than October 1, 2002.
    - Once a PSAP request is received, the carrier shall, in the area served by the PSAP:

    Within six months or by October 1, 2001, whichever is later:

    1. Ensure that 100 percent of all new handsets activated are ALI-capable;
    2. Implement any network upgrades or other steps necessary to locate handsets; and
    3. Begin delivering to the PSAP location information that satisfies Phase II requirements.

    Within two years or by December 31, 2004, whichever is later, undertake reasonable efforts to achieve 100 percent penetration of ALI-capable handsets in its total subscriber base.

  • For roamers and other callers without ALI-capable handsets, carriers shall support Phase I ALI and other available best practice methods of providing the location of the handset to the PSAP.

  • To be allowable under the FCC rules, an ALI technology that requires new, modified, or upgraded handsets shall conform to general standards and be interoperable, allowing roaming among different carriers employing handset-based location technologies.

  • For carriers employing network-based location technologies, the FCC replaces its current plan, which requires that implementation be fully accomplished within 6 months of a PSAP request, with a revised rule requiring the carrier to deploy Phase II to 50 percent of callers within 6 months of a PSAP request and to 100 percent of callers within 18 months of such a request.

  • The FCC adopts the following revised standards for Phase II location accuracy and reliability:

    • For network-based solutions: 100 meters for 67 percent of calls, 300 meters for 95 percent of calls;

    • For handset-based solutions: 50 meters for 67 percent of calls, 150 meters for 95 percent of calls.

  • The FCC directs wireless carriers to report their plans for implementing E911 Phase II, including the technology they plan to use to provide caller location, by October 1, 2000. This report shall provide information to permit planning for Phase II implementation by public safety organizations, equipment manufacturers, local exchange carriers, and the FCC, in order to support Phase II deployment by October 1, 2001.

  • The FCC directs that the Office of Engineering and Technology and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, working with interested parties, proceed expeditiously to address issues of verifying compliance with the Phase II accuracy and reliability standards.

Action by the Commission September 15, 1999, by Third Report and Order (FCC 99-245). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani with Commissioner Tristani issuing a separate statement.

News Media Contact: Meribeth McCarrick at (202) 418-0654; TTY at (202) 418-7233; or e-mail at

Wireless Bureau contacts: Dan Grosh at (202) 418-1310, e-mail Mindy Littell (202) 418-1310, e-mail or TTY at (202) 418-7233.

WT Report No. 99-27

CC Docket No. 94-102

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