Commercial wireless carriers support the FCC’s focus on providing location data from 911 callers using a wireless phone inside a building, but they question whether the commission’s proposed rules on the topic are technically feasible in the near term, according to representatives from key wireless-carrier trade associations.

Last week, the FCC proposed rules that would require carriers to provide longitude, latitude and vertical location information—the XY and Z coordinates—about a wireless 911 caller inside a building to public-safety answering points (PSAPs), so first responders can get to the proper spot as quickly as possible. Under the FCC proposal, carriers would be required to provide PSAPs with the indoor-location information two years after rules are adopted.

While the FCC’s goal is laudable, there is considerable debate whether it is realistic for carriers to comply in this timeframe. After all, in a recent testbed designed to evaluate indoor-location technologies, “none of them met public safety’s requirements,” according to Brian Josef, CTIA’s assistant vice president of regulatory affairs.

“This is not the wireless carriers saying this doesn’t meet our requirements,” Josef said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Public safety has said that additional development is necessary before they can get actionable information. This is all about getting dispatchable information to first responders. And, arguably the best-performing technology still only located the calls in the correct building one-third of the time. So, to public safety’s point, more work needs to be done.

“For the FCC to set a requirement where we don’t today have the technology to that gets us there—or there are serious questions about that—seems to be putting the cart before the horse.”

Steven Berry, president and CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), echoed this sentiment.

“It’s not whether or not we’re going to get there or whether or not that’s a reasonable expectation, it’s how do you get there and do you get there in a way that small carriers can afford to do it?” Berry said. “Our carriers want to get there; it’s just a matter of how fast and under what terms and conditions.”