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U.S. Law Catches Up to 911 Technology

Thu, 07/24/2008 - 7:45am
Evan Koblentz

President Bush yesterday signed the NET 911 act into law, spreading more power to the FCC, state-level regulators and consumers too.

The law covers several topics related to calling 911 from wireless and VoIP phones.  Its sponsor was Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), who chairs the House Committee on Science and Technology.

As explained by National Emergency Number Association (NENA) spokesman Patrick Halley, the new law (HR 3403) stipulates:

  • Existing FCC rules requiring all providers to have 911 access are now formal law.
  • 911 operators now have liability protection for current and future technologies.
  • States can charge 911 fees but must use the revenue for its intended purpose.
  • The departments of Commerce and Transportation must report to Congress on the state of next-generation IP networks every 270 days.
  • Rules for customer proprietary network information are extended from wireless to VoIP.
  • The 2004 E-911 act is extended to allow federal grants for IP network migration.

In addition to the law, NENA hopes to get funding assistance for field operations.  “While NENA is pleased that this important legislation will now take effect, there remain existing issues that must be addressed.  Paramount among these is the need for Congress and the administration to recognize the funding challenges being faced by 911 centers across the country and the critical need for federal 911grant funding,” the organization said in statement.

Full details of the new law are here.

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