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States and Localities Must be Good Stewards of Wireless Consumers’ Support for 911

As April is “911 Education Month,” it’s a good time to think about how the wireless industry and its consumers support our nation’s 911 communication system. Americans use wireless to contact 911 services more than 400,000 times per day to save lives, stop crimes and help others in emergencies. But the numbers don’t tell the full story. Check out some true accounts about every day citizens who used wireless to act in an extraordinary circumstance.

The 911 system is generally funded through state and local fees and surcharges paid by consumers on telecommunications services, including wireless. As wireless service providers continue to invest substantial resources in networks and equipment to support 911, wireless consumers pay more than $2 billion a year to support state and local 911 services, including operations and equipment upgrades for 911 emergency call centers. 911 funds make sure that our nation’s emergency call takers and first responders are properly equipped to handle wireless 911 calls and, increasingly, text messages.

Unfortunately, some states used those funds earmarked for 911 for non-911 purposes. As shown in the chart below, while the number of states that raid their 911 funds has recently declined, CTIA and its member companies believe that even one state that raids the 911 fund is too many. Adding to our concern, many states and localities don’t have safeguards in place, such as audits, to determine if funds are being properly spent. States and localities need to use 911 funds for their intended purpose: to ensure the public 911 call centers and public safety community have the resources needed to respond to 911 calls, including those from wireless devices.

Source: FCC Report to Congress on State Collection and Distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 Fees and Charges, December 31, 2013. http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/911/Net%20911/NET_911_Act_Report_to_Congress_123113.pdf

Source: FCC Report to Congress on State Collection and Distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 Fees and Charges, December 31, 2013. http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/911/Net%20911/NET_911_Act_Report_to_Congress_123113.pdf

CTIA and our member companies remain ardent supporters of the 911 system and are committed to working with Congress and state legislatures to stop states from misdirecting these critical funds. We owe it to our nation’s 911 and public safety professionals -- who are always there when we need them -- to make sure they have what they need to perform their jobs as safely, effectively and efficiently as possible.

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