Back to Basics: Promoting Public Safety and Protecting Consumers

Recently, I’ve been at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas getting a sneak maximum at the very latest gadgets and innovations. Enabling new technologies that delight consumers and grow the economy is one of the FCC’s top focal points. While the hottest tech trends might garner the headlines, an equally important part of the FCC’s mission can be basic consumer protections. The Commission’s first open meeting of 2015 will be focused on two core responsibilities: promoting public safety and serving as an effective, accessible advocate meant for consumers.

Since I attained the Commission, one of our best public safety priorities has been enhancing the effectiveness of 911. A particular area of attention has been to improve location accuracy meant for indoor wireless 911 calls.

When the FCC adopted its original wireless 911 rules, many wireless usage occurred outdoors. Yet times have changed, and so has technology. The vast majority of 911 calls now come from wireless phones, increasingly from indoors.

That is why the Commission put forth proposed new area accuracy rules last year.

The record in the proceeding lets us know that there have been significant advances within technology, including technologies that have the potential to locate indoor callers by address, floor, and apartment or space number.

The Payment has studied this problem in depth, along with public safety stakeholders, has developed a mature understanding of the range of credible choices.

The four biggest wireless carriers and two national public safety organizations recently submitted their own proposed “roadmap, ” the novel approach that has the potential to close the readiness gap by means of use of known locations of interior wireless nodes. This approach will ultimately result in capabilities that will evolve with the continued change anticipated in the number of ways consumers might call for help in the future.

The plan proposal is a big step forward, yet we also understand and appreciate the valid criticisms raised by some public safety stakeholders.

We have listened and learned from all sides in this debate. Today, I am circulating an order to a fellow Commissioners that takes advantage of the good work done by the carriers, APCO, and NENA, while also delivering confidence-building measures and backstop thresholds that set clear targets and deadlines for improving indoor area and hold parties accountable for results.

We want to harness new technologies not only to enhance 911, but also to make the Commission more accessible to the public and more effective as a customer advocate.

Over the past 30 days, the FCC launched a new on the internet Consumer Help Centerthat replaced the Commission’s previous complaint system using a user-friendly portal for filing and monitoring informal consumer complaints. This will enable consumers who have billing conflicts with their carrier, received unwanted telesales calls, or wish to file the complaint on some other service concern to file their complaint more easily, and track the status of issues 24/7.

Over time, the machine will enable us to track and provide more refined data on customer complaint trends to the public as well as FCC staff, which will help better inform our policymaking and enforcement actions.

At our The month of january meeting, the Commissioners will listen to a presentation from staff at the new Consumer Help Center.

The Commission will continue working to unleash the innovative, new consumer products that we see on the Consumer Electronics Show, but we also remain focused on taking advantage of advances within technology to provide better service meant for consumers and enhance public basic safety, now and in the future.

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