FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Friday vowed to spend the next year calling on Congress to tackle the issue of funding and deploying next-generation 911 (NG911) in public-safety answering points (PSAPs) throughout the U.S., noting that the FCC has “done about everything we can do” within the agency’s legal authority.

“I keep looking for things here and turning to [FCC staffers] and saying, ‘OK, what else can we do inside the authority of the FCC?’ We have dealt with the question of resiliency, we've dealt with a question of location, issues such as text to 9-1-1 to try and take advantage of new capabilities.

“We have pretty much exhausted what we can do here at the commission, which is why every time I have been before Congress for the last year, I have always said we have to have leadership out of the Congress, and we have to have a new national plan for NG911—and that only Congress can make that happen.”

Although the FCC may be limited legally in the impact it can have regarding key prerequisites for NG911 implementation—most notably, on the all-important issue of funding—Wheeler said that he will continue to push lawmakers to address key NG911 issues.

“I pledge to you that, in the year that I have left in this job, every time that I appear before Congress, the number-one item that I will talk about is the absolute necessity … of Congress dealing with the issues in NG911, so Americans can have the benefits [of next-generation technology] rather than just talk about them,” he said.

Wheeler made the comments to kick off a meeting of the Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture (TFOPA), which later approved its final report regarding the transition of PSAPs from legacy 911 to NG911. Wheeler applauded the task-force members for their work during the past year, describing the TFOPA report as “a blueprint that says, ‘This is how we need to proceed on these important issues,’” when NG911 advocates deliver their messages to lawmakers.

“We are grateful to you for that,” Wheeler said. “I look forward to reading it, and I look forward to being an advocate.

“The facts are simple. We need to do better in bringing the benefits of technology to the safety of Americans.”