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FCC Striving for GPS Capable Phones by 2018

In an ongoing effort to enable 911 location services for mobile devices, similar to what landlines already offer, the Federal Communications Commission last week proposed for all phones to be GPS-enabled by 2018.

The FCC said in its order that this effort is both achievable and inexpensive because most 2G and 3G handsets “shipped by manufacturers were equipped with GPS-chips, by the end of the eight-year implementation period, network-based carriers will likely have complied with their location accuracy benchmarks by ‘blending in’ such location-capable handsets.”

The eight-year period began in September 2010 after the FCC’s order requiring providers to implement requirements for enhanced 911 location tracking. This is part of an ongoing effort that actually began in 1996.

Since then, FCC has issued multiple updates to 911 requirements including a recent effort to enable first respondents be able to accept text messages, photos and videos.

To be compliant, a company only needs 85 percent of its users to have GPS-enabled devices. However the FCC says at the end of the eight-year period  “the public safety community, wireless carriers, location technology vendors and other stakeholders will have a significantly better understanding of how much time network-based carriers will need.”

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