The overwhelming majority of 9-1-1 professionals oppose the terms of a recent deal struck by major phone companies and executives of two public safety associations on wireless 9-1-1 indoor location accuracy, according to a national survey of more than 300 managers and dispatchers of the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) that handle 9-1-1 calls.
By a 10-1 margin, 9-1-1 professionals said they would have voted to oppose the deal, if given the opportunity.
The deal was announced in November by the four major wireless companies – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile – and the boards of two public safety associations, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), but it drew immediate criticism from dozens of other public safety organizations that said it weakened, delayed, and/or eliminated critical elements of the FCC’s proposed indoor safety rules.
Among the findings of the survey:
- The vast majority of 9-1-1 employees oppose the phone company plan: 96 percent of respondents said they support the FCC’s proposed public safety rules over the phone company plan;
- Most public safety officials would have voted against the deal:By a 10-1 margin, respondents said they would have rejected the phone company plan (76 percent to 8 percent), if it had been put to a vote;
- 9-1-1 professionals reject the associations’ support for the deal:By nearly a 4-1 margin, respondents said they personally oppose NENA and APCO’s decision to support the phone company deal (62 percent to 17 percent);
- The FCC’s approach has strong support among 9-1-1 professionals:Upwards of 96 percent of respondents preferred the key elements of the FCC’s approach, including specific indoor and vertical accuracy requirements, aggressive timetables, coverage of all handsets, and use of any/all technologies;
- Most believe the FCC should move forward with its original indoor safety rules: Three in four respondents (76 percent) said the FCC should proceed with its original rules vs. just three percent who supported the phone company alternative; and
- Deep concern expressed over use of Russian satellite system: A significant majority (57 percent) opposed incorporating the Russian GLONASS military satellite system into the U.S. 9-1-1- infrastructure, as the phone company plan has proposed.
“In hindsight, the phone companies may have been correct in calling this a ‘consensus’ agreement, because there is an indisputable consensus among public safety officials that replacing the FCC’s proposed rules with their ‘roadmap’ is a terrible deal for public safety,” said Jamie Barnett, former Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and Director of the Find Me 911 Coalition, which conducted the survey.
“Our nation’s frontline 9-1-1 professionals are almost unanimously opposed to the phone company proposal, and they believe the FCC should ignore any efforts to weaken the original horizontal and vertical requirements and timetable for indoor calls,” he said.