Archive for October, 2014
Friday, October 31st, 2014
This past January, the particular Commission unanimously adopted an order to speed technology transitions for the benefit of consumers. How? By guaranteeing that technology transitions bring development while protecting the enduring beliefs that consumers have come to expect using their networks, including public safety, consumer protection and competition.
The time has come to put those principles into practice. Today, I am moving to my fellow Commissioners two items which take up the task of encouraging technologies transitions while protecting those core values.
Tremendous benefits can be realized by the transition associated with public safety to IP-based networks. For example , IP-based networks will allow 911 call centers to receive a better range of information – such as text, video, and data from automobile crash sensors – to better support emergency response.
However the introduction of new technologies has also introduced new vulnerabilities that cannot be overlooked. We have seen a spike within so-called “sunny day” outages, whenever failure comes from the failure of software or databases and not from organic disasters. As the Public Safety Agency reported to the Commission earlier this particular month, a “sunny day” outage this past April left consumers within 7 states without 911 assistance for up to 6 hours. Some 6, 600 911 calls were not completed during that time. This is simply unacceptable.
A single 911 contact today can involve multiple companies operating in multiple locations across the nation, and that means a failure in one place can leave people without 911 service across multiple states, indeed across the nation.
That is why I am proposing action to protect 911 service as the tech changes move forward. The proposal I’ve sent my colleagues proposes a 911 governance structure designed to ensure the particular technology transitions are managed in a way that maximizes the availability, reliability, and resiliency of 911 networks, as well as the accountability of all participants in the 911-call conclusion process.
The second item concerns the so-called “retirement” associated with legacy networks. New IP-based networks, made of fiber for example , have introduced great new choices to millions of Americans. But millions of American homes continue to choose traditional, reliable, copper networks for voice communication. Now, we have been close to a tipping point, the actual Commission in January unanimously described as “a point where the adoption of recent communications technologies reaches a critical mass and most providers wish to cease offering legacy services. ”
So the item I am circulating offers to update the Commission’s guidelines that govern the retirement associated with legacy networks, and the discontinuance associated with traditional services.
To guard public safety, my proposals might take steps to ensure that consumers using these next generation networks and services – whether or not cable coax or telecommunications dietary fiber – can reach 911 along with other emergency services even when the power goes out.
To protect consumers, I recommend new transparency measures to ensure that these people know what is happening to their voice assistance when carriers propose to take this away – and what they can perform about it. This is not a hypothetical problem: the proposal to end traditional assistance in Fire Island, New York right after Hurricane Sandy damaged the copper phone lines sparked substantial open public concern – and rightly so.
To protect competition, this particular item includes proposals to ensure that small- and medium-sized businesses do not have the advantages of competition yanked away from them. The mere change of a network facility or discontinuance of a legacy assistance should not deprive consumers or companies of competitive choices. That would only lead to higher telecommunications prices that are passed along to consumers.
The two items for the November meeting join two other technology transition items that have been submitted to the full Commission. Earlier this week, I circulated a proposal to update the particular Commission’s rules to give video providers who operate over the Internet – or some kind of other method of transmission – exactly the same access to programming that cable plus satellite operators have. This change should ultimately give consumers more options to buy the programming they need.
Those same principles apply in the context of an item I circulated last week on an problem commonly referred to as “VoIP symmetry. ” The notion is simple –interconnected VOIP will be functionally equivalent to traditional voice assistance, and the Commission’s rules that control the way communications companies pay one another to complete voice calls must reflect that. Technology-neutral rules are best.
All four items turn on simple precepts that go to the heart of the open public interest: Technology transitions will be speeded by technology-neutral rules that promote, preserve, and protect the long-lasting values that consumers have deservingly come to expect, and chief among them is the ability to reach emergency responders and the ability to choose products and services inside a competitive market. Technology must enhance; these values must be protected; these things demonstrate how both can go hand-in-hand.
Thursday, October 30th, 2014
In response to my recent post regarding the harmful consumer practice associated with pocket dialing, I received the letter from Kelly Dutra, the Director of the Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency (WCCCA) in Beaverton, Oregon. The letter begins, “I read with interest the Business Week article ‘FCC Commissioner: Butt-Dialing is usually Taxing 9-1-1’ and let you know you might be right on target. They account for more than 30% of our wireless 9-1-1 calls. In 2005 we installed a method that all wireless calls must go through to make it to a Calltaker. The wi-fi 9-1-1 caller must speak or press any key for the program to recognize it as an actual contact to be passed through. ”
Ms. Dutra continued, “I have got attached a separate sheet showing figures from 2012 to current. I’ve also been studying the number of butt calls that make it through the system we simply began including in our weekly, monthly, and annual reports. The device we now have in place blocks on average 30% yet another 15-20% of the calls that make it through the system are still butt calls with enough noise in the history for the system to treat it as an active call. ”
The letter and accompanying information charts from WCCCA, provided below, confirm my overall concern regarding pocket dialing. First, as can be seen from the line graph, the range of the problem is fairly consistent with our rough estimates. WCCCA reports that approximately 50% or more of day-to-day wireless calls to 911 are usually pocket dials that are either obstructed or reach Calltakers. Second, despite having the technological screen employed by WCCCA, a significant number of pocket dials continue to be able to get through, wasting the time plus effort of public safety officials. Lastly, the problem with pocket calling has been fairly consistent over the last period of time, meaning it is not fading as new-technology and phones enter the marketplace.
I thank WCCCA designed for providing me with these useful plus important data points and wish other call centers will provide more information regarding their experiences with pocket dialing.
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
Last week, the Wireline Competition Bureau opened the application filing window for parties interested in participating in the Commission’s rural broadband experiments. Already we have seen activity in the online system we are using to accept the applications, with many entities working on their applications. Interested parties have until 6 p.m. on Friday, November 7 to submit applications for this funding opportunity.
The opening of the filing window marks a historic occasion. For the first time, the Commission is using a competitive bidding process to award ongoing Connect America Fund support that will bring broadband to rural America. Applicants have the opportunity to bid on $100 million in available funding through the rural broadband experiments, with defined criteria for the level of service we expect winning bidders to provide and an objective, clear-cut methodology for selecting winning applications.
Already, we’ve learned a lot from these experiments: working on the nitty-gritty details of the application form, doing outreach to get the word out to potential bidders, and getting the online system up and running. Once the application window closes, we’ll be learning about competitive interest to build networks to rural communities that will deliver services that far exceed the Commission’s current performance standards. And I’m sure we will learn something unexpected that will help the Commission make decisions regarding the design of the Phase II auction that will occur after the offer of model-based support to price cap carriers.
We’re eager to learn how competition can drive support to efficient levels. As Chairman Wheeler has stated, “competition holds the promise of better services at lower costs – it is time to use that dynamic for the benefit of rural America.” We agree, and we expect the rural broadband experiments to be the first step towards unleashing that competition in rural America.
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Consumers have long complained about how their cable support forces them to buy channels they never watch. The move associated with video onto the Internet can do some thing about that frustration – but first Internet video services need access to the programs. Today the FCC requires the first step to open access to cable programs as well as local television. The result ought to be to give consumers more alternatives to choose from so they can buy the programs they want.
In 1992 Congress realized that the then-nascent satellite industry would have a hard time competing because much wire programming was owned by wire companies who frequently kept this from competitors. Congress mandated access to cable channels for satellite solutions, and competition flourished. Today We are proposing to extend the same concept to the providers of linear, Internet-based solutions; to encourage new video alternatives by opening up access to content previously locked on cable channels. Exactly what could these over-the-top video providers (OTTs) supply to consumers? Many different kinds of multichannel video packages designed for different tastes and preferences. A better ability for a consumer to order the channels he or she wants to watch.
So-called linear channels, which offer the viewer a prescheduled lineup of programs, have been the largely exclusive purview of over-the-air broadcasting, cable, and satellite TV. Require kinds of packages of programming are coming to the Web as well. DISH reports that it intends to launch an online service that may include smaller programming bundles. And it has already begun providing foreign language channels online. Sony, DIRECTV, and Verizon are also in the hunt. Recently, CBS announced a loading service that includes linear channels, individual from cable subscriptions; and the brand new HBO service may as well.
The mantra “Competition, Competition, Competition” fits perfectly with consumers’ desires for video choices. That’s the reason why I’m asking my fellow Commissioners to update video competition guidelines so our rules won’t work as a barrier to this kind of advancement. Specifically, I am asking the Percentage to start a rulemaking proceeding in which we would modernize our interpretation from the term “multichannel video programming distributor” (MVPD) so that it is technology-neutral. The effect of this technical adjustment will be to give MVPDs that use the Internet (or some other method of transmission) the same access to programming owned by cable operators and the same ability to negotiate to carry broadcast TV stations that Congress offered to satellite systems in order to make certain competitive video markets.
A key component of rules that encourage competition is assuring the FCC’s rules are technology-neutral. That’s the reason why the definition of an MVPD should switch on the services that a provider offers, not on how those services reach audiences. Twenty-first century consumers shouldn’t become shackled to rules that only recognize 20th century technology.
Much of the focus of debate about technology transitions has been on telecommunications, but video is moving too. Over-the-air TV has already shifted from analog to digital tranny. And cable systems – currently the dominant providers of high rate broadband – are moving their traditional services to IP-based shipping. This proposal recognizes that a wire system would continue to be regulated being a cable system, even if it migrates to IP delivery.
The Commission established in our The month of january Tech Transitions Order that the simplest way to speed the adoption of new technologies is to assure consumers that enduring values will be protected, including competitors. That applies to video as well as telecommunications. By making our rules technology neutral, we can encourage both new movie providers and incumbent cable workers to take advantage of the benefits of IP tranny, boosting competition.
In our Open Internet proceeding, we seek to assure open access to broadband shipping. In this proceeding, we will address access to programming for those taking advantage of that open up access. These new business models can bring new choices and advantages in order to consumers.
In Name VI of the Communications Act, Congress created rules to ensure that cable companies that own video content can’t raise artificial barriers to competitors by refusing to let their video competitors have access to the programming they own. That worked to get satellite providers, and also helped telephone companies entering the video business. In my opinion it makes just as much sense – and can have just as positive a consumer benefit – for an OTT.
Such benefits follow from advancement. Taking advantage of this rule, new OTTs may offer smaller or specialized packages of video programming, so consumers will be able to mix-and-match to suit their tastes. Aereo recently visited the Commission to make exactly this point – that updating the definition of an MVPD will provide consumers with new choices. And perhaps consumers will not be forced to pay for channels they never watch.
Opening up program access will also stimulate the high-speed broadband buildout. In September, I detailed how limited today’s competition for high speed fixed broadband in the United States is – about 75 percent of United states homes have either zero or even only one broadband network delivering rates of speed of 25 Mbps downstream/3 Mbps upstream or better. Those wanting to deploy new competitive broadband systems tell us that it’s hard to provide new high-speed Internet access without also being able to offer a competitive video package deal as well. An updated definition of MVPD would permit a new broadband rival to offer customers the ability to reach a variety of OTT video packages without always having to enter the video business by itself.
We have passed through an era where it was necessary to build a purpose-specific pathway to deliver video. The innovation of Internet Protocol (IP) has freed video from these closed pathways and single-purpose devices. The proposal put forth today will update FCC rules to recognize this brand new reality and, as a result, expand competitors and consumer choice.
Monday, October 27th, 2014
Earlier this month, the Commission kept the last in its series of six Open Internet Roundtables. At each one of these roundtables—totaling over 20 hours— panelists along with diverse viewpoints dove into many of the thorniest issues in this proceeding, responding to questions from the public, FCC moderators, and the Chairman. The Chairman, Commissioners, and stakeholders have also engaged in energetic discussions of these issues at occasions around the country. All for the purpose determined by the Commission in its Open Web NPRM: to find the best approach to protect plus promote Internet openness.
We listened and we learned. Along with specific regard to the Roundtables, here are some key takeaways.
We heard economists debating harms to Internet openness, including but not restricted to broadband providers’ incentives and capability to engage in anti-competitive behavior. We heard engineers describing Internet technologies, including current techniques for managing today’s networks. And we heard enforcement experts talking about how to design an enforcement procedure for open Internet rules that will balances certainty, flexibility, and gain access to for all stakeholders.
Each of us also personally moderated sections about the Commission’s legal authority plus policy choices for fixed and mobile broadband services.
At the legal roundtable, we heard considerable debate about the rainbow of lawful options on which the Commission can base its Open Internet guidelines. Some maintained that reclassifying the retail broadband service provides the most powerful legal ground. Others at the roundtable suggested that a “greenfield” classification of the service furnished by broadband suppliers to the edges of the network like a telecommunications service could be even easier to defend. Some claimed the same regarding relying solely on Section 706. Still others embraced hybrid techniques, such as using section 706 plus Title II in tandem to back up open Internet rules and U.s. congressman Waxman’s proposal to reclassify the retail service under Title II but adopt substantive rules using Section 706. But the end from the roundtables is not the end of the dialogue: we continue to benefit from ongoing general public discussion and welcome filings that will compare and contrast the different legal options.
The debates we heard at the mobile roundtable centered on whether mobile should be subject to the same types of rules that would apply to fixed broadband providers. That question raised problems of technology – for example several recent filings discuss the specialized similarities and differences of mobile and fixed broadband, including what constitutes good network management for mobile suppliers. Also important is an on-going lawful debate, questioning whether the Commission can interpret the statutory definition of Commercial Mobile Service—the only mobile assistance subject to Title II regulation—to apply to a mobile broadband service that could not use the North American Numbering Strategy. We welcome additional thoughts concerning the network management of fixed plus mobile broadband networks as well as the Commission’s legal authority to act in this area.
Panelists at the opening roundtable, which focused on tailoring policy to harms, debated paid prioritization—a subject central to many comments in our report. Some parties have urged a flat ban on these practices. Other people believe a presumption that paid prioritization violates the law would protect Internet openness. This is a central problem: how best can the Percentage prevent harm to the virtuous group of innovation, consumer demand, plus broadband deployment, which unites the interests of consumers, edge providers, and other stakeholders?
The roundtables are now over. But our quest for the best approach to protecting and promoting Internet openness continues. We accepted further input on these issues and more as we work toward this objective.
Friday, October 24th, 2014
When Chairman Wheeler arrived at the Commission last November, he described the incentive auction as taking a cutting edge concept to market on deadline. At that time he wrote in a blog post, “managing a complex undertaking such as this also requires an ongoing commitment to continuously and honestly assess its readiness and its project strategy. ”
Now is a great time to take stock of where we have been and where we are going. Additionally it is time to carefully consider and recalibrate our proposed timing for the beginning of the incentive auction.
Following the Commission’s adoption of the Report and Order in May, we have made consistent progress implementing the incentive auction. Of particular note, the Commission has followed through on commitments made in the Report and Order and initiated rule-makings to address the operations of important solutions affected by the incentive auction, which includes unlicensed white spaces devices, wireless microphones and Low Power Television. And just last week, the Commission addressed several broadcast and wireless interference issues.
We are ongoing our march toward implementing the incentive auction. Importantly, we anticipate the Commission will vote in the Comment PN before the end of the year. The Comment PN may propose and seek comment on the detailed directions for how the public sale will be conducted, including the methodology for use to establish opening bids for the invert and forward auctions; how to specify “impaired” markets subject to interference; and the components of the final stage rule. In the coming weeks, the Commission will also consider a notice of proposed rule-making to preserve one vacant TV funnel post-auction for use by unlicensed devices.
Crafting the right policy decisions and designing a story two-sided auction are important, but all those decisions by themselves are not sufficient to ensure the auction’s success. We also need broadcasters to participate. Earlier this month, we sent every auction-eligible place owner an information package prepared for that FCC by the investment banking company Greenhill and Co. The information deal explains this unparalleled business opportunity and included high-end estimated compensation ideals for every DMA generated by FCC staff. We will continue our conversation with broadcasters in town hall conversations and confidential meetings with person station owners in markets round the country.
Amidst this multi-front progress, however , there are undeniable impediments to our efforts to implement a successful auction. As Chairman Wheeler indicated several weeks ago, the courtroom challenges to the auction rules by some broadcasters have introduced uncertainty. Earlier this week, the court released a briefing schedule in which the last briefs are not due until past due January 2015. Oral arguments follows at a later date yet to be determined, using a decision not likely until mid-2015. We are confident we will prevail in courtroom, but given the reality of that timetable, the complexity of designing and implementing the auction, and the requirement for all auction participants to have certainty well in advance of the auction, we now anticipate accepting applications for the public sale in the fall of 2015 and starting the auction in early 2016. Despite this brief delay, we stay focused on the path to successfully applying the incentive auction.
Friday, October 24th, 2014
Every four years, the International Telecommunication Union retains a Plenipotentiary Conference to address the strategic direction of the ITU upon telecommunications issues. I have just spent several days in Busan, Korea at this year’s conference, working alongside with other USG officials, including head of delegation Ambassador Danny Sepulveda from the State Department, Assistant Secretary Larry Strickling from NTIA, Associate Secretary Andy Ozment from DHS, and my colleague from the FCC, Commissioner Mike O’Rielly.
Together, we held a series of bilateral meetings with delegations from other countries in the important work of the conference, wanting to ensure the international community helps to provide development and capacity-building assistance to countries on important issues like infrastructure deployment and cybersecurity. Regulatory issues were hot topics in several of these meetings, as well as in a number of FCC bilateral meetings with our counterparts through independent regulators and telecom ministries.
I came far from these meetings with a few tips. First, virtually every regulator emphasized essential it is to get broadband to countryside and remote areas of their countries – to promote economic development, schooling and effective healthcare. Not just online connectivity, but broadband. They understand that high speed access can unlock the potential for individuals to prosper in their local organizations instead of migrating to urban facilities in search of a better quality of life.
While we may be at different stages along the path to enabling high speed access for those in rural areas, the challenges they described sounded all too familiar. As we focus on empowering people in rural America simply by enabling affordable access to broadband, we will at the same time be a case study and a shared experience that will be of interest to many countries around the world thinking about broadband deployment.
A second shared challenge is the difficulty of freeing spectrum to get more efficient uses. African countries, for instance , are facing a 2015 deadline day for their DTV transition, and we got several lively conversations on the “lessons learned” from our experience just a few years back. In addition , other countries are discussing how best to conduct spectrum auctions, and have been following our auctions activities closely. We discussed not just auctions methodologies, but also how better to strike that delicate balance in between licensed and unlicensed spectrum.
And third, every session included a spirited discussion regarding the challenges regulators face as they grapple with regulatory frameworks from a circuit-switched world trying to keep up with a fast-evolving IP environment. Suffice it to say there was a lot of interest in the technology transitions activities underway at the FCC.
Discussing shared targets and comparing problem-solving approaches has a way of focusing attention on the commonalities between the challenges we and other government bodies both face. It’s clear that other countries are following how the FCC tackles these challenges carefully; they monitor our proceedings and study our orders. This just underscores the importance of getting our insurance policies right – the decisions we all make matter not just for U. S. consumers, but set a typical for policy makers worldwide.
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
It is now well known that the FCC’s Open up Internet docket is the most commented upon rulemaking in the agency’s history, with more than 3. 9 million submissions to date filed both through our Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), the dedicated openinternet@fcc. gov email address, plus via the additional option of Comma Divided Values (CSV) files. Regardless of the technique through which a comment was filed, every comment submitted has been made portion of the official record of this proceeding.
After the first initial remark period ended, our IT team made those comments available to the general public in a series of XML files. These files allowed researchers, journalists, as well as others to analyze the data so that the public and the FCC itself could discuss and find out from the comments. The Sunlight Base, TechCrunch and the San Francisco analysis firm Quid were just some of the institutions and individuals who analyzed some or all the files and made these analyses available to the public.
In the interest of ensuring that the community has open access to the almost 2 . 5 million reply feedback that were filed during the official answer comment period (July 19-September 15), we are today releasing those answer comments in one zipped XML file. This file includes 725, 169 comments the FCC received through ECFS and CSV file uploads and another 1, 719, 503 comments received via the email address, for the total of 2, 444, 672 comments received during that time period. Designed for greater ease of use, we are also producing the initial round of comments obtainable in one zipped XML file. Each files can be found here. To protect commenters’ privacy, we have redacted email addresses from all of the comments.
Because before, we encourage those with the particular requisite technical skills to analyze the particular raw data and build visualizations or other tools and to talk about them with the public. This will help the FCC and the public have a more fully formed understanding of the content and supply of the reply comments. We believe that open data and transparency leads to better policymaking, and we invite and appear forward to your participation in this process.
Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
The wi-fi industry is a powerful driver associated with growth in our economy. New services pop up all the time, giving the gadgets in our pockets and purses better service and faster broadband connections. Our country relies on these connections, but serving America’s exploding need for them shouldn’t come at the price of a worker’s life.
Too often though, that is exactly what is happening. In 2013, 13 workers lost their lives in this industry. This year: 11 so far. The tower industry might be small, currently employing 10, 000 to 15, 000 workers, but it’s quickly proving to be one of the most dangerous. And if we don’t do something now, the number of fatalities will grow as fast as the industry does.
This is why our agencies joined together yesterday with telecommunications and tower system industry leaders to address this heartbreaking problem. We know that we can only solve it if we work together; that we every have a role to play in halting these senseless tragedies. It’s also why we’re proud to announce that our partnership on this issue doesn’t end today, but will continue by means of a joint working group the particular FCC and DOL have decided to create, with industry participation, to develop suggested practices for employers.
We know that no one intends for a tower construction project to consider a life. Contracts for tower system work are often written to ensure basic safety from top to bottom, but that message frequently gets diluted in a decentralized market that uses so much subcontracting. We have to make sure the protections are making it in the folks on the ground to the person one, 000 feet in the air holding the particular wrench or wearing the funnel.
This particular new working group represents an enormous step forward, as we do everything in our power to make sure no family has to experience the anguish of losing the parent, child or sibling inside a workplace fatality. We were also capable to announce today another component of these continued efforts to save worker lifestyles: the new Registered Apprenticeship Program to get Tower Technicians. This apprenticeship plan will make sure that tower technicians receive the safety training necessary to reduce injuries on the job. As the telecom industry booms, it needs workers with the expertise to perform the job safely.
The TIRAP program and this morning’s event are a case study in the importance of partnership. It’s a great example of federal agencies and forward-looking market leaders breaking down barriers, identifying typical goals, creating synergy and creating a whole greater than the sum of our parts.
We look forward to this continued partnership as well as the effect it will have on the lives plus livelihoods American workers.
*DOL mix published this blog at: http://social.dol.gov/blog/?p=15486
Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
Today’s wireless devices are amazing tools that empower people. Our wireless phones, mobile phones, tablets, phablets and more allow us to seamlessly communicate, as well as benefit from all Internet features and functions. As a result, we have integrated these wireless capabilities into our daily lives. Such increased mobility, however , has led to troubling behavior by several users that deserve everyone’s attention. During my recent trips across our great nation, I was infuriated to know of continued wireless device improper use. For many reasons, some consumers possess yet to see or understand that their own risky wireless practices and behavior can harm themselves and other people.
Distracted Driving – The number of people that are killed and injured by sidetracked driving is staggering. For instance, the National Safety Council estimates that there have been over 810, 000 accidents in 2014, or about a single every 30 seconds, involving text messaging on wireless phones by motorists. To put it in more granular form, the Arizona Department of General public Safety found that during a five-month period earlier this year, 10 people passed away and 380 people were injured due to distracted driving. And the problem might be getting worse. A 2013 AT& T survey indicated that 49 percent of commuters admitted in order to texting while driving, up through 40 percent three years ago.
The good news is that a number of initiatives are being conducted nationwide to educate customers, especially our young drivers, concerning the perils of distracted driving and the devastation that can result. Clearly, more must be done but every step, no matter how small, helps. Here are just a few types of the many laudable efforts from this 12 months alone:
- In June, a Glacier Park Elementary (WA) student, Avery Esses, submitted the winning poster in a contest that was turned into a billboard to warn of the dangers associated with distracted driving sponsored by the Wa State Patrol, Maple Valley Law enforcement, Tahoma School District and King County Emergency Medical Services.
- In May, Colonie Main High School (NY) student, Haylie Szemplinski, created an anti-distracted driving billboard sponsored by the South Colonie Schools Art Department and Lamar Visuals. This is the third year for the task.
- Create Actual Impact in CA concluded their own contest last week for full-time students between the ages of 14 plus 22 to create an original work (e. g., video, music, creative writing and artwork) promoting solutions to sidetracked driving.
These are just a few examples of the many efforts by local and state officials and the private sector to educate American customers about the dangers of distracted generating, especially those involving wireless products. I welcome input on other ways to get the word out to eliminate wireless device usage while driving.
Pocket Dialing 911 – Dedicated plus hard-working public safety officials who else answer and respond to Americans in times of need are being inundated by unintentional wireless calls to 911. Generally referred to as pocket dialing (and sometimes as butt dialing), this takes place when insufficiently secured devices are bumped and automatically dial 911. By putting wireless phones in such places as purses and pouches, consumers can unwittingly dial emergency personnel. While the full scope from the problem is not known, my visits to the New York City and Anchorage Public Service Answering Points suggest that roughly 70 percent of 911 calls are made by wireless devices and 50 % or more are the result of pocket calling. If my anecdotal experiences are remotely accurate, it would mean that approximately 84 million 911 calls per year are pocket dials. This is a large waste of resources, raises the price of providing 911 services, depletes PSAP morale, and increases the risk that will legitimate 911 calls – plus first responders – will be postponed.
Clearly any solution shouldn’t make it harder for consumers in order to dial 911 in times of need, yet we must find ways to educate customers about better securing their wireless devices. I’m confident that if customers realize that they are putting their buddies, neighbors, and loved ones at better risk, then they will change their practices. One option to consider would be pertaining to wireless providers or PSAPs in order to voluntarily text a consumer whenever 911 is dialed by any energetic wireless device. If consumers are notified to the simple fact that they have dialed 911 accidentally, they may take precautions to avoid it from happening again. And such a text would not interfere with emergency services if consumers were facing an actual incident. Alternatively, perhaps there exists a way to impose some type of penalty charge on consumers that repeatedly send illegitimate 911 calls to PSAPs.
Non-Service-Initiated Wireless Cell phones and 911 – Current FCC rules require that all wireless devices are capable of reaching 911 emergency services even if the devices shall no longer be associated with a wireless service plan or even a wireless provider (known as non-service-initiated, or NSI, devices). In other words, in case a wireless phone has battery power, it must be able to dial 911. Whenever enacted, the rules were intended to enable consumers to reach 911 PSAPs when, for example , wireless service accounts were temporarily suspended for failure to pay for or if using spare cell phones kept in case of emergency. Unfortunately, the guidelines have led to certain unintended implications. In particular, public safety officials possess told me that some consumers are inadvertently dialing 911, while others are intentionally prank calling 911. What is most troubling is that, because there is no service agency attached to the wireless device, the location and caller are untraceable. This really is extremely disturbing. Whether inadvertent or intentional, the Commission needs to evaluation its existing rules to ensure that they cannot enable unwanted 911 calls in order to emergency personnel.
In March 2013, the Commission’s General public Safety and Homeland Security Agency released a Public Notice wanting to refresh the record in this continuing. In particular, the Bureau also wanted additional comment on: (1) the nature plus extent of fraudulent 911 calls made from NSI devices; (2) problems with blocking NSI devices utilized to make fraudulent 911 calls, plus suggestions for making this a more viable option for carriers; and (3) other possible means to stop fraudulent 911 calls from NSI devices. As part of this process, the Commission received comments through NENA: The 9-1-1 Association and other public safety officials seeking to finish the FCC’s requirement for NSI products to be 911-capable.
To put this problem in perspective, consider a few of the filings in the record. For instance, the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board posted comments that highlighted a statewide survey examining the scope from the problem. To its dismay, the Board determined the problem was “worse than we realized, ” plus indicated that “one child made 84 calls in one night, which nearly immobilized the call center’s ability to receive actual emergency calls. ” In addition , the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, Inc., indicated that will, “The information already in the record of this proceeding demonstrates the serious problems posed by such calls, which will only get worse with widespread deployment of wireless IP telephony devices. ”
I am hopeful that the Commission will deal with this in the near future.
2. * *
The simple truth is that the consumer behavior identified over generally can’t be solved with new laws and regulations. In fact , 44 declares already have some form of a ban on text messaging for drivers. Instead, the real important to minimizing the harms brought on by such practices is consumer schooling and outreach. I plan to continue my efforts to spread the word that these practices can’t be tolerated, as well as engage on whether the Percentage can take positive steps in a non-regulatory manner to reduce their likelihood.