This week the four major wireless carriers began allowing customers to take advantage of text-to-911 services available in two states and a handful of counties. It could prove most useful for those who are hard-of-hearing or have difficulty speaking.
This week, the four big wireless carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon — voluntarily implemented the ability for certain customers to text 911 in those parts of the US with call centers that are capable of receiving them. A document available on the FCC Web site states that as of Friday (May 16) two states, Maine and Vermont, have statewide text-to-911 capability, while 14 other states have limited capability to within certain counties’ borders. Although more counties and states are expected to gain this functionality over time, the FCC strongly recommends going the old-fashioned route by calling first.
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What’s the Big Idea?
According to recent statistics, cellphones are used for nearly two-thirds of emergency calls. Text-to-911 functionality can especially benefit “those who are hard of hearing, have a speech disability, or are in an emergency situation in which making noise could exacerbate danger.” In Vermont, which has been testing the service since 2012, local media reported that emergency texts prevented, among other things, a suicide and an escalating assault.