Wisconsin governor signs wireless 911 bill

| 9/11/2003

Wisconsin cell phone users will pay a surcharge to help cover a federally mandated program allowing police to track cell-phone calls under a bill the governor signed last month.

The monthly fee, which has not been set yet, will start in 2005 and be added to cell phone bills until 2008, The Journal Times reported.

Gov. Jim Doyle said in a statement the new law would enable emergency personnel to respond more quickly when someone dials 911 from a cell phone.

“AB61 addresses a significant public safety need by encouraging the development of enhanced 911 service for wireless phones,” Doyle said. “The legislation will establish ‘public safety answering points’ that will pinpoint the location of a 911 call that originates from a cell phone.”

Unlike emergency calls on landline phones, dispatchers currently do not have the ability to determine a cell-phone caller’s location, a task especially difficult on highways.

Local governments had been waiting for the state to pass the surcharge before moving ahead with the technology to trace cell phone calls.