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February 22, 2011

Dropping the Ball on 911 Services: Verizon Must Investigate Dropped Calls

By Jaclyn Allard, TMCnet Web Editor

As I recently reported, Verizon and Intrado’s deployment of a modern 911 services platform, powered by IP-based technologies, in the Denco Area 911 District in North Texas, is the beginning step of a new initiative to advance the state of 911 emergency services in the U.S. The collaborative effort of Verizon, a provider of broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services, and Intrado (News - Alert), a provider of emergency communication services and technology, is to enable call centers nationwide to support and implement the handling of multimedia information – voice, data and video – for 911 services.

As Farooq Muzaffar, vice president of product management at Verizon (News - Alert) Business, said in a statement, “Just as people are changing the way they communicate, so too must the 911 system change and evolve beyond just the limited information available under current systems.”

It appears, however, that Verizon needs to take a second look at its current system before introducing its next-generation upgrades. The Federal Communications Commission agrees as it holds Verizon responsible for its more than 10,000 dropped calls in a Washington, D.C. suburb during the Jan.26 snowstorm.

FCC (News - Alert) Public Safety and Homeland Security Chief, Jamie Barnett, expressed concern about the possibly far-reaching implications of this issue and its affect on 911 services. The federal agency is now calling for the wireless carrier to perform an investigation to determine the extent of the problem. While the alarming rate of dropped calls is most likely a result of the heavy network load created by the widespread adoption of the iPhone on the Verizon network, public opinion remains powerful, especially on the topic of 911 services.

Verizon must take careful steps in solving the issue and repositioning itself in the immersive market of next-generation 911 services. As TMC reported, Norman Mineta, former United States Secretary of Transportation, said in a statement, “We need more emphasis put on the importance of emergency preparedness. By doing so, more Americans will feel confident in their abilities to react to an emergency."

Jaclyn Allard is a TMCnet Web Editor. She most recently worked on the production team at Juran Institute, a quality consulting firm producing its own training and marketing materials. Previously, she interned at Curbstone Press, a nonprofit publishing press in Willimantic, CT, and fulfilled the role of Editor-in-Chief for the literature and arts journal published by the University of Connecticut. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard

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