The information will allow emergency service members to know exactly which floor of a multi-story building an emergency call is coming from

Back in 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that would require nationwide wireless providers to provide emergency services with z-axis (i.e., vertical) location information in the largest 25 markets by the 3rd of April, 2021 and certify deployment by the 2nd of June.

In short, this information will allow emergency responders to immediately identify which floor of a building an emergency call is coming from, thus shortening response times. 

In 2019, a z-axis metric was introduced by the FCC, meaning providers must provide accurate vertical location data to within plus or minus three metres from the handset making the emergency call in at least 80% of instances.

However, all three of the major wireless operators in the US – AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile – had asked for an 18-month extension to this June deadline, in part due to the difficulty in testing vertical location solutions due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Now, having missed the June deadline, the FCC have announced that a settlement has been reached with each of these operators, giving them until the 10th of June to comply with the FCC’s specifications. The operators are also obligated to implement compliance plans and pay $100,000.

“Six years is too long to wait for 911 vertical location information that can save lives,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “These settlements accomplish what has evaded the agency for too long: they ensure that the FCC, public safety, and wireless carriers work together to immediately start delivering this information to first responders without further delay. They also ensure that we are improving our 911 location accuracy capabilities everywhere in the country and not just in the top 25 markets. This progress will advance important public safety objectives and benefit all Americans.” 


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