FCC says no to deadline extension for wireless 911 call system upgrade

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has turned down requests made by cell phone companies looking for an extension to meet the requirements of E911, a rule that calls for the companies to enables their systems to track within a hundred yards the locations of wireless callers to 911 systems, the Associated Press reports. Wireless carriers were to have provided 95 percent of subscribers with traceable handsets by the end of 2005, even though not single one of them did so. The list companies who requested the extension includes some heavy-hitters within the industry, such as Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp., Alltel, and others.
The task to meet compliance is difficult because it requires the companies not only to upgrade their systems, but to also work with local emergency dispatchers to upgrade their systems as well. According to a report by the General Accountability Office, by late 2005 about 57 percent of emergency dispatch centers had complied, up from 18 percent in 2003, AP reports.
Though most of the carriers are required to meet the reporting requirements by Feb. 1, some companies due to their lower penetration rate — such as U.S. Cellular Corp., Nextel Partners, Alltel and Sprint Nextel – could face fines, the AP reports.