April is “National 911 Education Month,” so it’s a good time to say thanks to first responders – and their families – who are tirelessly and selflessly dedicating themselves to saving protecting people and saving lives. It’s also important that we understand how to use 911 in an emergency, especially as wireless embarks upon a new chapter in wireless 911 services with text-to-911, which is carriers’ ability to send texts to 911 in emergencies.
By May 15, 2014, AT&T, Sprint, T‑Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless voluntarily committed to support text‑to‑911 services in areas where public safety answering points (PSAPs), which are the 911 call centers, ask to be able to receive text‑to‑911 messages. You may soon be able to send SMS text messages to 911 if you are one of these wireless providers’ customers and you send a text message to 911 in an area where the PSAP can receive the text message.
Whether text-to-911 is available for you now or later, here are a few tips on text-to-911 service:
- Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t: Your local PSAP 911 operator may not be able to accept text messages. A voice, TTY or relay call continues to be the best way to reach 911. Voice calls to 911 provide the operator with the most information about the emergency situation.
- You May Get a “Bounce-Back” Message: If text-to-911 isn’t available in your area, you’ll receive a “bounce back” message that tells you to call 911 instead. All wireless providers will send the “bounce back” message, even if the carrier isn’t supporting text-to-911 services.
- Know Where You Are: 911 operators need to know where you are in order to send help. Text-to-911 services do not automatically provide your specific location to the 911 operators. So, make sure to include your location in the text message.
Even though there are a few areas that will soon have text-to-911 available, the ability to text and send photos and videos to 911 may increasingly be available throughout the United States as we move towards Next Generation 911. CTIA and its member companies have a strong record of enhancing public safety so that wireless consumers may reach 911 in their greatest time of need, and we will continue to do so.
If you want more information on text-to-911, please visit the FCC’s website.
As part of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) Coalition, 29 bipartisan groups sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to support the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 3086) and the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act (S. 1431). Those proposals are aimed at making permanent a moratorium on Internet access taxes, which is currently set to expire November 1st of this year. The online tax moratorium was established 15 years ago and has been temporarily extended several times since then. The legislation now being considered would prevent Internet access from ever being taxed, and would help keep the Internet affordable and continue to shut out multiple and discriminatory taxes.
With the Internet accounting for almost five percent of all U.S. economic activity, it’s important to keep access tax-free. Such taxes would threaten Internet access for who can least afford it, curbing their ability to access educational and advancement resources or participate in the digital economy. In addition to increasing costs to consumers, failure to enact this legislation in time will stifle innovation and investment in the U.S. The signatories of today’s letter to Congress represent an incredibly diverse group of interests, and their collective action shows how critical it is to keep such an invaluable tool affordable for all Americans.
Join these 29 groups by asking your federally elected officials to keep the Internet affordable by passing H.R. 3086 and S. 1431 now.
Since its inception, the AMBER Alert program helped recover nearly 700 abducted children. Thanks to WEA AMBER Alerts, these notices about abducted children who are in danger are being sent to even more people. Statistics show that the first three hours after an abduction are the most critical in recovery efforts, and being able to quickly engage the public in the search for an abducted child can help law enforcement bring that child home safely.
Here’s a look at how AMBER Alerts developed over the years:
- 1996: Named for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted while riding her bicycle, AMBER Alerts are issued through participating radio stations in an area. As the program spread from state to state, alerts are issued through television, radio and highway signs.
- 2005: In an effort to expand the message through technology, the wireless industry worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to launch the Wireless AMBER Alerts program. More than 700,000 wireless customers enrolled in the Wireless Amber Alert system, which sent free text messages with the relevant information.
- 2012: Wireless AMBER Alerts transitioned into the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program, which sends out a text-like message that supersedes other applications to all WEA-capable phones in a geographically-targeted area.
- February 2013: The first AMBER Alert under the WEA system goes out in Minneapolis, MN, leading to the recovery of an 8-month-old child.
In the face of disasters or epidemics, the best laid plans may be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the damage or the number of injuries. To help better plan for these disasters, researchers at the Johns Hopkins National Center for the Study of Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response (PACER) developed ...
Americans make more than 400,000 wireless 911 calls every day, but wireless devices offer so much more to first responders than a phone call. CTIA Assistant Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Brian Josef discusses how wireless assists 911 operators, the current state of location services and the future of E911.
Over the past decade, texting has become an integral part of how we communicate with friends and family, but it also plays a vital role in emergencies, especially for those with disabilities. Learn about the development and adoption of text-to-911 service, and what it means for consumers.
When disaster strikes, people need their wireless devices more than ever, which is why wireless carriers invest millions of dollars in strengthening their networks, upgrading their capabilities and making sure their response teams and back-ups are ready to go. Watch AT&T put its Network Disaster Recovery team to the test ...
After the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) March Open Meeting, I said:
“CTIA applauds the Commission for taking action today on two key spectrum items that will expand the availability of spectrum for licensed and unlicensed use, and bring significant benefits to consumers.
“The AWS-3 Report and Order will set the stage for ...