Verizon Developing New Service to Allow Cell Phone Users to Text Message 911

Telecommunication giant Verizon  has announced that by early 2013, a nation-wide system will be in place that will allow cell phone users to text message 911.This service will be helpful for the deaf or hard of hearing who find voice calls difficult if not impossible.  The service will use existing CDMA and SMS networks, and therefore must be available to all customers once finally rolled out.

Verizon says the following about text to 911’s benefit for the deaf or hard of hearing,

” While consumers should always first try to contact a 911 center by making a voice call, this enhanced SMS service, when deployed, will offer an alternative for customers on the Verizon Wireless network who are deaf or hard of hearing and cannot make voice calls or who could be placed in additional danger by speaking.”

If  you are able to make voice calls to 911 it remains the preferred method. Text to 911 service has not yet been deployed so texts to 911 will not be answered.

The following is from  May 3, 2012 press release.

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., May 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Demonstrating its continued commitment to advancing public safety, Verizon Wireless is taking steps toward offering a lot of its customers a brand new approach to communicate with 911 call centers run by public safety officials. The corporate announced today that it has selected TeleCommunication Systems Inc., of Annapolis, Md., to take part in an initiative with the intention to enable customers to send 911 SMS (Short Message Service) texts to the decision centers, that are is named public-service answering points, or PSAPs.

While consumers must always first attempt to contact a 911 center by creating a voice call, this enhanced SMS service, when deployed, will offer an alternate for purchasers at the Verizon Wireless network who’re deaf or hard of hearing and can’t make voice calls or who might be placed in more danger by speaking.

“Verizon is on the forefront of 911 public-safety innovations, and today’s announcement is another step in making SMS-to-911 service available to people who cannot make a voice call to 911,” said Marjorie Hsu, Verizon Wireless vice chairman of technology. “Our company is constant its long-standing commitment to deal with the purposes of public safety and our customers by offering differently to get assist in an emergency by utilizing wireless technology.”

The corporate is operating on plans to make the recent capabilities available to pick out PSAPs by early 2013. Verizon plans to exploit its existing CDMA SMS network for 911 text notifications. The hot service could be offered to Verizon Wireless customers who’ve a text-capable phone and a service plan that features text messaging.

“TeleCommunication Systems has worked closely with the FCC during the last two years to develop its innovative technology for SMS to 911,” said Maurice B. Tose, president and CEO of TCS. “Because the preeminent U.S. supplier of SMS and pioneer in wireless E911, TCS is easily positioned to enable Verizon in advancing its public safety commitment.”

Verizon is operating with others within the communications industry, PSAPs, the Federal Communications Commission and other federal and state agencies within the eventual deployment of this new service geared toward giving consumers new tips on how to communicate with designated public safety agencies.

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About WINAHEAD

WINAHEAD is made up of representatives from twenty-nine institutions. Our members are professionals employed by two- and four-year colleges and universities who work directly with students with disabilities to ensure equal access to higher education. WIN indicates the geographic area we represent: Western Iowa and Nebraska. AHEAD is our national parent organization, the Association on Higher Education and Disability.
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