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FCC Requires New ‘CMRS’ Providers to Report E911 Exclusion Areas

Service areas where E911 location accuracy cannot be provided must be reported

The U.S. government is requiring new commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers that deliver emergency calls for Enhanced 911 service, to file lists of counties or areas where service is excluded because of interruptions to the handset-based technology.

On July 25, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission posted a Federal Register notice—Wireless E911 Phase II Location Accuracy Requirements—that says new CMRS providers “in delivering emergency calls for Enhanced 911 service, must satisfy the handset-based location accuracy standard at either a county-based or public safety answering point (PSAP)-based geographic level.”

CMRS includes any wireless real time two-way voice communication device, including radio-telephone communications used in cellular telephone service, personal communication service, or the functional or competitive equivalent of a radio-telephone communications line used in cellular telephone service, a personal communication service, or a network radio access line, to include pre-paid wireless connections. CMRS does not include service whose customers do not have access to 911 or to an enhanced 911-like service, to a communications channel suitable only for data transmission, to a wireless roaming service or other non-local radio access line service, or to a private telecommunications system.

The FCC says a “new CMRS network” is a newly deployed network, and not an expansion or upgrade of an existing CMRS network. Such new CMRS networks must meet “handset-based location accuracy requirements” of 50 meters for 67 percent of calls, and 150 meters for 80 percent of calls, on a per-county or per-PSAP basis, according to the FCC.

However, the providers of new CMRS networks “may exclude up to 15 percent of the counties or PSAP areas they serve due to heavy forestation that limits handset-based technology accuracy in those counties or areas,” the FCC says. Therefore, the White House Office of Management and Budget approved the requirement that new CMRS providers report the counties or PSAP service areas where the carriers cannot provide E911 location accuracy at either the county or the PSAP level to affected PSAPs, state and local emergency agencies, public safety organizations and other interested stakeholders.

While the OMB approved the information-filing requirement on May 17, 2012, the FCC made the requirement effective on July 25. The OMB also made the requirement effective through May 31, 2015.