FCC gets behind all-IP pilot projects, but only if carriers deploy NG-911
In a public notice issued Friday, the FCC’s Technology Transitions Policy Task Force said that it is seeking comments concerning plans to allow local telephone companies to transition pilot markets to all-IP service. For public safety, a key element of the program is a requirement carriers wishing to participate in the pilot must agree to deploy next-generation 911 service in the pilot area for both consumers and public-safety answering points (PSAPs).
National Emergency Number Association CEO Brian Fontes said that he sees the stipulation as a means to ensure that, as the world moves to IP networks, next-generation 911 will move with it.
“[Internet protocol] is the way that people are going to communicate, whether you’re in the commercial sector or the public-safety sector,” Fontes said during an interview with Urgent Communications. “[The notice] underscores, clearly, that anybody transitioning and moving toward IP networks must also include 911 in those networks.
“I’m pleased that the commission has done this—it speaks volumes, in terms of ensuring that the American public will have access to advanced 911 as the commercial world moves to IP as the backbone for their communications.”
Fontes said that he doesn’t expect any negative reactions from commercial telecommunications providers.
“My conversations with the carriers before this was that they would be fully supportive of looking at next-generation 911, or including it in their test beds and test markets, so I don’t anticipate any push back,” he said.
In its notice, the FCC said that including NG-911 in the trials would provide answers to important technical and policy questions, which in turn will accelerate the transition to such technology. The notice indicates that the trials will occur in areas where PSAPs already are transitioning to NG-911—or have taken initial steps to do so—and where local wireline, wireless and VoIP telecommunications providers are able to deliver IP-based calls to an ESInet natively or through a legacy network gateway.