Individuals or entities wishing to provide input about proposed rules designed to improve the location accuracy provided during 911 calls from wireless and VoIP devices should submit their comments to the FCC by Jan. 3, according to a notice from the agency’s public safety and homeland security bureau.

On Sept. 23, the FCC approved a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would require all wireless carriers to meet location-accuracy rules at the county level or the PSAP within eight years. The item was published in the federal register on Nov. 2, so the 60-day comment period will end on Jan. 3. A 30-day period for reply comments will follow, with that input being due to the FCC on Jan. 31.

Under the new rules, handset-based carriers that rely on GPS must ensure that 67% of Phase II calls must be accurate to within 50 meters, and 90% of Phase II calls must be accurate to within 150 meters in all counties or public-safety answering point (PSAP) service areas at the end of the eight-year period.

Network-based carriers must ensure that 67% of Phase II calls are accurate to within 100 meters in all counties or PSAP service areas, and 90% of Phase II calls are accurate to within 300 meters in 85% of counties or PSAP service areas.

Previous FCC rules included similar accuracy measurements, but wireless carriers were able to include results from larger regional areas in meeting benchmarks. Public-safety officials complained that location information from 911 callers in some rural areas was so inaccurate that it provided little benefit to first responders, which sparked the push for the proceeding.

As expected, the new rules mirror the location-accuracy guidelines that three of the nationwide wireless carriers — AT&T, Verizon and Sprint — previously agreed to as part of merger agreements. In addition, some exceptions proposed by T-Mobile also were included in the order.