August 20, 2019

FCC Wireless Location Accuracy Waivers

cell tower

On May 24th, the FCC granted several requests for waivers by wireless licensee petitioners of Section 20.18(i) of the Commission’s rules. Those rules specify wireless E911 location accuracy standards and impose reporting requirements.

The rules require Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers to establish a location accuracy test bed to validate their indoor location technologies. Additionally, they must aggregate and quarterly report live 9-1-1 call data from six representative cities. Biannually, non-nationwide providers must report live 9-1-1 call data, either for one or more of the six representative cities or the largest county in the provider’s service area.

Reference: FCC Wireless E911 Location Accuracy Requirements, Fourth Report and Order, , PS Docket No. 07-114

The intent of the rules are to ensure that PSAP’s within a wireless provider’s service area. Those PSAPs must have requested Phase II location data from a provider. The rules ensure that the location technologies implemented by a CMRS are reliable. Those CMRS providers that requested waivers of the FCC’s rules classify themselves as small, rural providers of wireless telecommunications services. Furthermore, the PSAPs in their service areas either are not capable of receiving and using Phase II location data or have not requested Phase II.

The FCC agreed with the individual petitioners that the purpose of the rules could not be served by requiring the CMRS providers to provide Phase II location data to a PSAP that was not yet capable of receiving the data.

While the FCC agreed with the individual petitioners, a blanket request for waiver from NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association. The NTCA petitioned on the premise that the issues apply more broadly to all rural wireless providers who have not yet received requests for Phase II from PSAPs. The FCC denied the NTCA’s request for waiver on the basis that the rules allow individual petitioners to seek relief are sufficient in their current form without granting a blanket waiver.

The full order is available from the FCC.

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