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May 07, 2012

Verizon's Text-to-911 Service Contacts Emergency Services via SMS

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor

Verizon Wireless (News - Alert) is offering a new way to communicate with 911 call centers, run by public safety officials, to allow those who are deaf or hard of hearing and therefore cannot make voice calls.

The renowned wireless operator has announced plans to launch a new text-to-911 service, designed to contact the emergency services via short message service (SMS).

In essence, this text-to-911 initiative will allow Verizon customers to send 911 SMS texts to the call centers, known as public-service answering points (PSAP). To roll out the initiative by the end of 2013, Verizon has selected TeleCommunication Systems (TCS) of Annapolis, Md. to participate in this development.

"Verizon is at the forefront of 911 public-safety innovations, and today's announcement is another step in making SMS-to-911 service available to those who cannot make a voice call to 911," said Marjorie Hsu, Verizon Wireless vice president of technology. "Our company is continuing its long-standing commitment to address the needs of public safety and our customers by offering another way to get help in an emergency by using wireless technology."

To make the new capabilities available to select PSAPs by early 2013, Verizon plans to use its existing CDMA SMS network for 911 text notifications.  The new service will be offered to Verizon Wireless customers with text-enabled phones.

"TeleCommunication Systems (News - Alert) has worked closely with the FCC over the past two years to develop its innovative technology for SMS to 911," said Maurice B. Tosé, president and CEO at TCS. "As the preeminent U.S. supplier of SMS and pioneer in wireless E911, TCS is well positioned to enable Verizon in advancing its public safety commitment."

The announcement comes nine months after the FCC (News - Alert) tentatively announced plans to modernize the 911 service. It should, in the future, mean that people are able to send photos and video from their mobile phones to emergency call centers, said Verizon.

TeleCommunication Systems released its Q1 2012 fiscal results late last month, boasting over 10-percent increases in several margins.

Edited by Braden Becker
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