Last September, the Federal Communications Commission reached a decision
that would raise the standard on E911 service and force mobile phone operators
to test the service locally rather than the usual state and national
tests. The FCC gave mobile phone companies five years to meet these
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday granted a stay
on the decision made in September. A group of wireless phone companies,
including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint Nextel, requested the stay
while they appeal the application of the standards.
E911 is an emergency service that allows firefighters and law officials to
track where emergency calls come from. Under current standards, emergency
operators can locate a call within 150 to 300 yards.
The new standards would strengthen the accuracy of wireless carriers by
forcing them to perform tests on local levels rather than state and national
levels. This would remove the same standards being applied to different
areas where accuracy is poor in one and strong in another.
It is necessary to raise these standards on this service because under the
current system, emergency workers face difficulty with the accuracy in location
of a call. Some of the trouble locations are multi-story buildings and
highways. The new standards would provide testing for locations
such as these and strengthen the accuracy for these particular instances.
The FCC requires that the companies meet the standards over the next five
years, by September 11, 2012.