Though working-group representatives agreed with the recommended urgency to resolve the issue of transition delays and funding inefficiencies, some commercial broadband members expressed concern about the suggestion of funding 911 through a broadband network fee based on bandwidth usage. The working group had argued in a previous meeting that the current “per line” 911 fee is antiquated and does not reflect the technological advances in how users make 911 calls.

Anthony Montani, E911 engineering and operations director for Verizon, applauded the working group for addressing the need to accelerate the critical need to better fund and allocate resources for 911, but he said that the bandwidth-centric option should be “rethought.”

“The bandwidth to the consumer market is changing all the time … every year, you will see greater speeds, greater network spending and greater capital investment to create the speeds,” Montani said. “If we were to tie the speeds associated with the 911 service to a bandwidth component, to me, it will be prohibitive to that investment [by carriers].

“It certainly is going to be prohibitive to the consumer market that will bear those fees…Those larger bandwidth capacities, especially on a consumer side, they’re not getting larger speeds because of a need to dial 911. They’re getting speeds for other applications.”

Jeanna Greenspan, who handles regulatory development of 911 for Sprint, agreed. She gave the example of how many families not plugged into broadband Internet would not be accounted for in the suggested bandwidth-fee structure.

“My family with twentysomethings, we’re wired to the hill,” she said. “My parents just need to know that they can get help when they need to, and they don’t even have any Internet.”

Greenspan called for a 911 fee structure “that’s equitable for everybody” and said that Sprint officials believe a bandwidth-usage model “is really not the way to go.”  The matter should be studied further, Greenspan said.

Jason Jackson, member of the funding working group and executive director of the Alabama 9-1-1 Board, offered the idea of a “technology neutral” fee on broadband. The concept is already in practice in his state, reducing the number of entities enforced with a 911 fee from 185 to less than 20, he said.

Jackson said he understands the concerns about the bandwidth-based fee, but the broadband fee concept does not require any more of a household than the fee-per-phone-line model currently being used.

“If I’m a business, there are only so many lines possible for dialing out,” Jackson said. “If the fee-for-service goes up, it means I have more lines. It is kind of the same principle [with the fee changing based on bandwidth usage] … Technology continues to advance. The smaller capacity can accomplish more things. I don’t believe that consumers are going to have to purchase more bandwidth or megabytes going forward.

“I think that there are other models that could work better, more simply. The model that most states currently have is antiquated, at best. You cannot capture all the possibilities. I do think we have a way of simplifying it.”

LSAG, once formed, would make further suggestions to the FCC about funding options and the best way to assess a broadband network fee.