FCC approves Motorola handset waiver, warns of possible sanctions
In an order released by the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau on Oct. 3, Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola received what the FCC called “a limited, interim waiver to permit the continued shipment of Enhanced 911 Phase II-capable handsets incorporating a modified 911 call completion method, subject to further review of this modified method.”
The modification that Motorola requested would affect the way 911 calls are processed in a limited set of cases, specifically when a 911 call is terminated prematurely, without action by caller or call-taker, for example because of loss of signal.
Under the call processing method previously approved by the FCC, the handset would in that case immediately attempt to complete the call using alternate channels and systems until the call is completed.
Under the revised method requested by Motorola, the phone would remain on the paging channel of the wireless carrier that last served the call for a period of five minutes. After five minutes, the phone would return to normal scanning for service.
“Motorola asserts that this modification is justified as helping to transmit location information, assist PSAPs in handling Phase II calls, and reduce unintentional 911 calls,” the FCC order reads.
Motorola also asked the FCC to permit it to continue shipping two E911 Phase II-capable, multimode handsets incorporating the revised call-completion method.
“According to Motorola, it began shipping these handsets to Verizon on about Sept. 5 and approximately 250,000 handsets are in the supply chain, including some portion in the hands of consumers. It expects to ship an additional 250,000 handsets per month by Dec. 31. Further, Verizon Wireless scheduled a national campaign to promote and advertise these handsets to begin on Sept. 23. Delay in granting expedited relief to continue shipping could, Motorola claims, undermine the process of informing the public of the benefits of these new, advanced handsets. Motorola states that Verizon Wireless supports both of its requests,” the FCC order reads.
The FCC said that it would issue a separate notice asking the public to commment on the merits of Motorola’s revised 911 call completion method, but in the meantime, it said that the revised method does not appear to impair public safety and could possibly benefit PSAPs. It said that facilitating the delivery of location-capable handsets to consumers is in the public interest, helping to achieve the public safety goals of the Phase II program.
The FCC said that Motorola told it that if the commission did not approve the modified procedure after permitting shipping to continue, it would cease additional shipments and work with Verizon Wireless to reprogram any handsets in inventory as well as any future handsets that are manufactured.
But the FCC warned Motorola of possible sanctions, saying, “We also may consider other enforcement and corrective steps, if appropriate. In this regard, grant of this limited, interim waiver to permit continued shipment of the [handsets] does not excuse Motorola’s apparent failure to seek timely approval of the revised 911 call completion method…. We are accordingly referring this matter to the commission’s Enforcement Bureau.”