By Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission
An op-ed submitted to the New York Times
Simply put, the communications technology behind the 911 system is dangerously out of date. Currently, the centers handle about 240 million calls a year, an increasing number of them from cellphones. But many local 911 call centers can’t receive a text, photo or video from a person in need — capabilities that are considered commonplace for any American with a smartphone. Worse, while our nation makes the transition to broadband networks, too many of our 911 call centers rely on decades-old telephone technology — technology that is no longer being supported by commercial vendors and prone to failure. The market forces driving the broadband revolution will soon have the nation’s 911 system resting on a foundation of sand. The good news is we know what to do.