FCC mandates emergency SMS expansion
Texting is often the most-convenient way to communicate with friends or family, to coordinate events with a large group, or to market your business directly to potential customers.
But a text message can also be a matter of life or death for someone experiencing an emergency. Each year, countless Americans—especially those with impaired speech or hearing, or who don’t feel safe making an audible phone call—rely on SMS as a quick, quiet and effective way to contact 9-1-1 emergency call centers. Unfortunately, even more people can’t use text messages to report crimes, accidents or medical emergencies because their wireless carrier doesn’t provide the service, or the emergency call center in their area isn’t equipped to accept the texts.
That’s going to change. In recognition of the growing role of text messaging in the service of public safety, the Federal Communications Commission just voted unanimously to begin expanding the capability of emergency texting by studying how to make the service widespread.
Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile had already resolved to make text-to-911 available to their customers, where possible, by May 2014. FCC officials praised those voluntarily commitments and are now pushing the carriers and public safety organizations to make the service available everywhere and to everyone.