New 911 Texting Service a First in the US

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on May 10, 2012 7:05 AM

America's first 911 texting service is a potential life-saver, and the FCC is calling for even more future 911 upgrades such as photo and video messaging.

Verizon Wireless is set to be the first U.S. carrier to offer a 911 texting service, which will allow customers to send cell-phone text messages to a 911 dispatch center, PC Magazine reports.

The result could be potentially life-saving, especially for hearing-impaired customers who are increasingly turning to text messaging. It could also come in handy when time is of the essence -- or when it's too dangerous to make a 911 phone call.

Case in point: The Connecticut woman who was recently rescued from a kidnapper after she live-texted her location to her boyfriend -- who in turn relayed the information to police, according to The Hartford Courant. Had a 911 texting service been in place, the woman could have sent texts for help directly to law enforcement.

Verizon plans to roll out 911 texting in select areas of the country, perhaps as soon as this year, a company spokesman told Phoenix's KPHO-TV -- though other news reports say it won't be ready until 2013.

An FCC spokeswoman commended Verizon for providing "another way to reach 911 that is consistent with how millions of consumers already use mobile devices in their daily lives," according to The Hill.

The 911 texting service is a first step toward fulfilling the Federal Communications Commission's vision for "Next Generation 911." The plan foresees the use of cell-phone photos and videos to give first responders even more details about an emergency when they're dispatched, PC Magazine reports.

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