The FCC first outlined its intention to allow texting to emergency services back in 2010, and since then despite more talk of accepting photo and video messages, nothing official came to be. This week, however, Verzion has taken the initiative, and announced its own plans to enable text to 911 for its customers. Working with TeleCommunication Systems, the big red hopes that it can facilitate the sending of SMS messages to emergency call-centers as soon as early 2013. Texting isn't just about adding communication options, it also provides a valuable tool to the deaf, hard of hearing and situations where talking is dangerous, or not possible. The service will use existing CDMA and SMS networks, and therefore should be available to all customers once finally rolled out.
Verizon Selects TeleCommunication Systems to Provide Text to 911 National Gateway Solution
New Service Will Enable Customers to Send 911 Short-Code Messages to Emergency Response Centers
BASKING RIDGE, N.J., May 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Demonstrating its continued commitment to advancing public safety, Verizon Wireless is taking steps toward offering many of its customers a new way to communicate with 911 call centers run by public safety officials. The company announced today that it has selected TeleCommunication Systems Inc., of Annapolis, Md., to participate in an initiative that will enable customers to send 911 SMS (Short Message Service) texts to the call centers, which are known as public-service answering points, or PSAPs.
While consumers should always first try to contact a 911 center by making a voice call, this enhanced SMS service, when deployed, will offer an alternative for customers on the Verizon Wireless network who are deaf or hard of hearing and cannot make voice calls or who could be placed in additional danger by speaking.
"Verizon is at the forefront of 911 public-safety innovations, and today's announcement is another step in making SMS-to-911 service available to those who cannot make a voice call to 911," said Marjorie Hsu, Verizon Wireless vice president of technology. "Our company is continuing its long-standing commitment to address the needs of public safety and our customers by offering another way to get help in an emergency by using wireless technology."
The company is working on plans to make the new capabilities available to select PSAPs by early 2013. Verizon plans to use its existing CDMA SMS network for 911 text notifications. The new service will be offered to Verizon Wireless customers who have a text-capable phone and a service plan that includes text messaging.
"TeleCommunication Systems has worked closely with the FCC over the past two years to develop its innovative technology for SMS to 911," said Maurice B. Tose, president and CEO of TCS. "As the preeminent U.S. supplier of SMS and pioneer in wireless E911, TCS is well positioned to enable Verizon in advancing its public safety commitment."
Verizon is working with others in the communications industry, PSAPs, the Federal Communications Commission and other federal and state agencies in the eventual deployment of this new service aimed at giving consumers new ways to communicate with designated public safety agencies.