Sprint claims lead in E911 implementation
Sprint, an Overland Park, Kan.-based long-distance and wireless telephone carrier with what it says is the largest 100-percent digital, nationwide PCS wireless network in the United States, announced on Tuesday that its entire PCS network is now Phase II-compatible.
“This is a major step forward in preparing to deliver precise GPS location information required by the FCC for 911 calls,” a statement from the company reads.
Sprint said that it was only wireless carrier to have met the FCC’s deadline of selling a GPS-enabled handset by Oct. 1, 2001, and now, the first carrier ready to deliver E911 Phase II anywhere across its network.
“We’re proud to be leading the way in introducing this valuable, life-saving technology,” said Len J. Lauer, president of Sprint’s wireless division.
“It is important to emphasize, however, that Sprint’s network readiness is just part of the equation,” Lauer noted. “We continue to work with public safety answering points, local telephone companies and other organizations to deliver the service.”
For E911 Phase II service to be implemented in a community, several steps must be taken. Each local telephone company must be able to receive the information and transmit it to the 911 call takers or public safety answering points. The equipment used by PSAPs must also be updated to be capable of receiving and processing location information.
Since the end of 2001, Sprint has introduced Phase II E911 service in three markets, Rhode Island; St. Clair County, Ill.; and Lake County, Ind. Sprint is close to delivering Phase II in Delaware County, Pa.; Greater Harris County, Texas; and Johnston County, N.C.
The FCC Phase II Mandate requires all wireless carriers, within six months of a request from a public safety answering point, to be able to locate 67 percent of 911 callers within 50 meters using a “handset solution” or within 100 meters using a “network solution.” Sprint has chosen a handset-based GPS solution.
Sprint said that it has sold more than 1 million GPS-enabled handsets since October 2001. The GPS-enabled phones are designed to enable E911 capabilities as they become available. All PCS Vision phones now being offered by Sprint are GPS-enabled. The handsets can dial non-GPS enabled 911 today, but the GPS-enabled E911 functionality is currently available only in the three markets where the local telephone company and PSAPs have upgraded their equipment with Phase II capability.
The GPS-enabled phones also will be capable of delivering location-based services to customers on an opt-in basis. Sprint has not announced its plans in the area of location-based services, but is exploring possibilities.
“Our customer base is mobile, so offering location-based services makes sense,” said Lauer. “But we’re studying the opportunities with an eye toward delivering valuable opt-in information that our customers want.”
Sprint serves 26 million business and residential customers in 70 countries. The company has 75,000 employees and $26 billion in annual revenue.