The FCC issued a new order regarding wireless E-911 accuracy requirements for U.S. operators earlier this month, making location requirements more stringent, which means operators will have to incorporate a number of technologies to meet those requirements, said John Baker, vice president and general manager for the Network Solutions Group at Commscope, a supplier of location technologies.

The new order mandates that operators will have to meet stricter location requirements at some point after January 2019. Baker said that there has been much confusion as to what the new order mandates, and some have taken the order to mean that operators no longer are allowed to use network-based call-locating technologies after that time.

GSM operators like AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile USA incorporate network-based location technologies, while CDMA operators use assisted GPS (A-GPS) in the handset. GPS is considered the more accurate technology and the FCC in the past has made accuracy requirements less stringent for network-based location operators.

The new rules will require operators to identify a caller’s location for a specified percentage of 911 calls within a range of 50 to 150 meters. That is tighter than the up to 300 meters that has been allowed. The bottom line is that, as Baker suggested, operators will need to leverage multiple technologies to meet the mandate.

“No one technology can solve the problem,” Baker said. “It’s going to be a mixture of network-based solutions, A-GPS and other algorithms out there.”

In related news, Commscope this week announced an upgrade to its GeoLENs mobile location center that adds a dual-plane functionality, which helps determine the location of mobile devices in difficult-to-reach areas. The MLC is a gateway that supports both emergency and commercial location technologies. Baker said that the new release adds more unified intelligence to the multiple capabilities that can locate more wireless callers at one time.

A typical scenario demonstrating the benefit of combined dual-plane functionality would be when a secure user plane-enabled mobile device is attempting to determine the user’s location. If GPS signals cannot penetrate the building, then the typical secure user plane location solution, A-GPS, will not be able to find the user accurately. With the MLC update, the network can automatically start looking for the user with a control plane-locating technology. When an indoor location system is integrated with the GeoLENs MLC 10.2, the caller’s location can be determined with higher accuracy.

The FCC also is looking at ways to better determine an emergency caller’s whereabouts indoors, along with determining the requirements for VoIP calls coming from smartphones.

“During the next six to nine months, a lot will unfold in this story,” Baker said. “The FCC has to come down with a method of how to test all of this.”

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