February 2, 2009
OTTAWA-GATINEAU —The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today gave Canadian wireless service providers a one-year deadline to upgrade their 911 services. By February 1, 2010, at the latest, emergency responders must be able to determine the location of a person using a cellphone to call 911 with much greater precision.
“With more than 20 million wireless subscribers in Canada, it is imperative that emergency responders can quickly and accurately locate those who use their cellphones to call 911,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “I am pleased that the industry has come forward with a technical solution, and that there is now nothing standing in the way of the implementation of enhanced 911 features. The safety and security of Canadians will be greatly improved as a result.”
In an emergency situation where the caller is unable to speak or cannot identify his or her location, the ability to provide emergency responders with more accurate information of the cellphone’s location can make the difference between life and death. Current 911 services rely on the position of the cellphone tower nearest to the caller. As such, emergency responders are only able to determine if a caller is in a sector within the area served by the tower, and not a specific area or location.
The enhanced features that will be implemented over the next 12 months represent a significant improvement to current wireless E911 services. Using wireless-location technology such as Global Positioning System or triangulation technology, emergency responders will be able to receive a caller’s location generally within a radius of 10 to 300 metres.
Although the CRTC has given the wireless industry a one-year deadline to put the enhanced 911 features into operation, they will be available in some markets much sooner. The Commission encourages wireless service providers to offer the enhanced 911 features as soon as possible.
Wireless service providers must inform their customers of the availability, characteristics and limitations of their enhanced 911 services before they are implemented, and reiterate them on an annual basis thereafter.
In addition, any new wireless service provider entering the Canadian market after February 1, 2010, will be required to support the enhanced 911 features from the moment it launches.
The CRTC is an independent public authority that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada.
Reference documents: Telecom Decision CRTC 2003-53 and 2003-53-1
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