Update: Reconsideration of Text-to-911 Bounce-Back Details Sought

CTIA says the roaming responsibilities imposed by FCC can’t be implemented technologically.

In May we reported on the FCC’s adoption of new rules requiring that bounce-back messages be provided in situations where a person sends a text message to “911” but text-to-911 capabilities are not actually available. Text messaging service providers must be able to “do the bounce-back” by this September. As it turns out, not everyone is totally tickled pink with the new rules. CTIA – The Wireless Association®, for one, doesn’t like the way the new rules would be applied to roaming situations.

For those of you who – like Justice Scalia (check out Footnote 1 in the linked opinion) – may not be familiar with CTIA – The Wireless Association®, it’s the trade group repping the international wireless telecom industry. “CTIA” originally stood for “Cellular Telephone Industry Association”, but that later transmogrified into “Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association” and, eventually, into the quasi-acronymic “CTIA – the Wireless Association®” (don’t forget the R-in-a-circle registered trademark symbol!). 

As adopted, the FCC’s new bounce-back rules make a wireless carrier responsible for providing bounce-back messages to a consumer “roaming” on its network. But, according to a Petition for Reconsideration filed by CTIA, this is technologically impossible – at least just now – due to the way text messaging works in roaming situations. Apparently, however, a consumer’s “home” wireless carrier is able to provide bounce-back messages to its own customers while they are roaming on another network. Thus, CTIA is asking the Commission to modify the bounce-back rules to “allocate carrier responsibilities in a way that aligns with technical realities.”

The FCC has released a Public Notice announcing the filing of CTIA’s petition. Oppositions to the petition will be due within 15 days after notice is published in the Federal Register.  Check back here for updates.

(REMINDER: Text-to-911 service is not yet widely available. Calling 911 is preferable to texting 911 in most circumstances. It’s still advisable to refrain from sending text messages to 911 unless you can’t make a voice call for some reason in an emergency situation.)

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