Congressmen say phone companies, regulators failing on 9-1-1
Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) said Tuesday that new information shows that cell phone companies and federal regulators have failed to implement life-saving technology that would allow emergency calls from cell phones to be tracked by police and other emergency responders. At a Capitol Hill press conference, the Congressmen announced new legislation that would accelerate implementation of tracking technology, and strengthen FCC sanctions against wireless providers who fail to comply with emergency regulations.
In 1996, the FCC and wireless providers agreed to implement technology allowing police, fire, and rescue personnel to locate people calling 9-1-1 on a cell phone. Wireless providers were required to make substantial progress by October 2001.
The congressmen say that despite the availability of the necessary technology, no progress has been made because the largest wireless providers complained about the cost and the FCC caved. The regulators stalled implementation to 2005.
More than 500 dead spots have been identified in New York City for the six major carriers. The representatives added that a recent study found that 33 popular cell phone brands are not equipped with FCC mandated technology to to switch 9-1-1 calls from within a dead spot to another carrier.
Weiner and Crowley plan legislation that will accelerate the FCC’s deadline for implementation of the tracking technology. Weiner plans legislation to increase disclosure by wireless providers regarding dead spots, and to toughen FCC sanctions for carriers that fail to comply.