E9-1-1 location standards should be relaxed in rural areas, groups say

| 8/26/2003

Sens. Max Baucus, D-MT, and Sam Brownback, R-KS, recently asked the Federal Communications Commission chairman to delay enforcement of the commission’s E9-1-1 accuracy standards for rural areas where wireless towers are typically spread apart.

E9-1-1 service would allow truckers and others to call 9-1-1 emergency services from a cell phone and enable dispatchers to pinpoint the location of the caller.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell on behalf of wireless carriers operating in rural areas, the senators encouraged the development of state-of-the-art location-accuracy standards that account for the unique wireless network configurations in rural regions.

"Rural residents deserve the same quality access to emergency telephone service as those in more urban parts of the country." Baucus said in a statement. "These FCC rules may also force rural providers out of business. That's just not fair. The FCC must come up with a common-sense solution that will benefit rural residents and protect rural providers. That's what Sen. Brownback and I are pushing for."

The main concern: The FCC's current accuracy standards may force many small and rural wireless providers to discontinue service in some areas rather than face enforcement action from the FCC.