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The Federal Communications Commission has adopted rules to help ensure that people who call 911 from multi-line telephone systems—which commonly serve hotels, office buildings, and campuses—can reach 911 and be quickly located by first responders.  The new rules will also improve emergency response for people who call 911 from other calling platforms.  The action implements two laws enacted last year that are designed to strengthen emergency calling.

First, the Commission took action to implement Kari’s Law, which requires multi-line telephone systems to enable users to dial 911 directly, without having to dial a prefix (such as a “9”) to reach an outside line. Over five years ago, Kari was murdered by her estranged husband in a Marshall, Texas hotel room.  Her then-nine-year old daughter tried to call 911 four times, as she had been taught to do.  But her calls for help never went through because the hotel’s phone system required guests to dial 9 before calling 911.

Kari’s Law also requires multi-line telephone systems to provide notification, such as to a front desk or security office, when a 911 call is made in order to facilitate building entry by first responders.  The new rules provide clarity and specificity to these statutory requirements so that companies can effectively meet their legal obligations.

Second, Section 506 of RAY BAUM’S Act requires the Commission to consider adopting rules to ensure that “dispatchable location” information, such as the street address, floor level, and room number of a 911 caller, is conveyed with 911 calls, regardless of the technological platform used, so that first responders can be quickly dispatched to the caller’s location.  The new rules apply dispatchable location requirements to multi-line telephone systems, fixed telephone service, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, Telecommunications Relay Services, and mobile texting services.  Mobile wireless services are already required to provide either dispatchable or coordinate-based location information with 911 calls.

In addition, the Commission consolidated its 911 rules from multiple rule parts into a single rule part, making it easier for stakeholders, such as service providers and emergency management officials, to more easily ascertain 911 requirements.

Action by the Commission August 1, 2019 by Report and Order (FCC 19-76).  Chairman Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly and Carr approving.  Commissioners Rosenworcel and Starks approving in part and dissenting in part.  Chairman Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, Rosenworcel, and Starks issuing separate statements.

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