9-1-1 service is a vital part of our nation's emergency response and disaster preparedness system. In October 1999, the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 (9-1-1 Act) took effect with the purpose of improving public safety by encouraging and facilitating the prompt deployment of a nationwide, seamless communications infrastructure for emergency services. One provision of the 9-1-1 Act directs the FCC to make 9-1-1 the universal emergency number for all telephone services.
The FCC has taken a number of steps to increase public safety by encouraging and coordinating development of a nationwide, seamless communications system for emergency services. The FCC has designed and established transition periods to bring the nation's communications infrastructure into compliance.
In order to deliver emergency help more quickly and effectively, the carriers and public safety entities are upgrading the 9-1-1 network on a regular basis. For example, most 9-1-1 systems now automatically report the telephone number and location of 9-1-1 calls made from wireline phones, a capability called Enhanced 9-1-1, or E9-1-1.
The FCC also requires wireless telephone carriers to provide 9-1-1 and E9-1-1 capability, where a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) requests it. Once it is implemented fully, wireless E9-1-1 will provide an accurate location for 9-1-1 calls from wireless phones.
Other FCC rules regulate 9-1-1 for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), mobile satellite services, telematics, and Text Telephone Devices (TTYs). The 9-1-1 requirements are an important part of FCC programs to apply modern communications technologies to public safety.