ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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ATIS Takes Steps to Ensure Effective '9-1-1' Emergency Services for Wireless Phones

Request for Stay Filed with FCC Regarding Implementation of "Enhanced 911" Plan

New York, Jul 26, 2002

The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), an ANSI member and ANSI-accredited standards developer, in cooperation with several industry groups, has suggested an alternate method from one proposed by the federal government be used to ensure that calls placed from mobile phones to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) can be more accurately linked to the caller.

"When an individual calls 9-1-1 from a non-service initialized wireless handset or an emergency-only-use mobile phone," explained Ed Hall, ATIS' vice-president of Technology, "it is very important that the call be accurately traced back to the caller should the line disconnect. ATIS has proposed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it consider utilizing a code sequence that would provide a 'fingerprint' to that phone."

The code that Hall refers to is proposed in J-STD-036, Enhanced Wireless 9-1-1 Phase 2, a voluntary consensus standard jointly published by ATIS Committee T1 and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) TR 45. The document recommends using the numbers, 9-1-1, followed by the last seven digits of the Electronic Serial Number (ESN) or the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number of the mobile phone for accurate identification purposes. Should the agency adopt the ATIS/TIA document, it would be an important example of the government's reliance on the expertise of private-sector standards developers.

ATIS believes that this solution would be more effective than the one developed by the FCC, which proposes installing a consecutive number code, i.e., 123-456-7890, into all non-initialized or 9-1-1-only mobiles telephones. Earlier this year, the FCC filed a Report & Order, "Enhanced 911 Emergency Calling Use of Non-Initialized Wireless," requiring all non-service initialized phones or 9-1-1-only phones to install the consecutive number code by October 1, 2002. ATIS filed a Request for Stay with the agency in June on behalf of the Emergency Services Interconnection Forum (ESIF). ATIS contends that telephone numbers starting with '1' or '0' cannot be easily navigated through the national wireless network or through the wireless global roaming network. In addition, the consecutive number code would not allow PSAPs to distinguish between legitimate and abusive 9-1-1 calls.

According to Jim Nixon, ESIF chairman and director of Government Affairs for Voice Stream, "The…solution identified by ESIF has several potential benefits over the proposed 123-456-7890 consecutive number approach. For example, in situations where a non-initialized phone is used abusively to make harassing calls to a PSAP, the phone could be identified and the PSAP could take the appropriate steps to prevent adverse impacts on the 9-1-1 system in that geographic area." Co-sponsored by ATIS and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), ESIF is responsible for facilitating the identification and resolution of technical issues related to the interconnection of telephony and emergency service networks.

Hall indicated that ESIF is currently developing a technical readout of the surrogate number approach for the FCC and will meet with the agency in August to present their recommendations. In addition, the forum "hopes that the FCC will seek comment from industry and public safety representatives concerning the use of the optional approach offered in J-STD-036 as a potential improvement to wireless 9-1-1 service."

Hall added, "The agency is very receptive to our proposal and has indicated its willingness to work with an ATIS-sponsored committee because its findings represent the consensus of a broad cross-section of interested stakeholders."

 Homeland Defense and Security Standardization Collaborative