Major Carriers Agree to Nationwide 911 Texting Service
The top four wireless network operators have all agreed to let customers send text messages to 911 emergency centers via their networks. The Federal Communication Commission has been pushing for what it calls a next-generation 911 service and AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless are all officially on board. They will begin deploying the service in 2013, though the nationwide system is not expected to be complete until mid-2014. The carriers will send automatic bounce-back messages to people who send 911 texts in areas where the service is not yet available. "Access to 911 must catch up with how consumers communicate in the 21st century—and today, we are one step closer towards that vital goal," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Voice calls to 911 are still the most effective way to communicate, but the FCC believes the text messaging service will help those who are unable to make calls during an emergency.