'Text to 911' programs accelerated

Dec. 7, 2012 at 8:12 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The Federal Communications Commission says the nation's top four mobile providers have agreed to accelerate efforts to allow customers to text 911 centers.

The FCC said Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile would begin launching emergency texting programs in 2013, with the goal of nationwide coverage by May 15, 2014, an FCC release said Thursday.

"Access to 911 must catch up with how consumers communicate in the 21st century -- and today, we are one step closer towards that vital goal," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement Thursday.

The goal of the deployment efforts is to provide at least 90 percent of U.S. wireless consumers the ability to text information to 911 emergency call centers, the FCC said.

Text-to-911 will provide consumers with enhanced access to emergency communications in situations where a voice call could endanger the caller, or a person with disabilities is unable to make a voice call, the agency said.

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