AAPL Stock: 117.34 ( -0.96 )

Printed from

FCC to require option of GPS phones for 911 by 2018

updated 07:45 pm EDT, Tue October 4, 2011

FCC wants GPS always an option on carriers

The FCC put forward new rule Tuesday that required carriers to offer phones with built-in GPS. Its mandate will have cellular, landline, and VoIP providers have positioning to help find them in a 911 call no later than 2018. Carriers won't have to limit themselves to GPS-aware phones after the cutoff, possibly softening worries that the government might track anyone with a phone.

The FCC argued that the policy is more to take advantage of existing trends than force a change in attitude. About 85 percent of cellphones, already the dominant form of calling in the US, are expected to have GPS by the 2018 target. VoIP is the largest exception and is being instituted as VoIP is moving away from its original role as an extension of or substitute for a landline, such as with Vonage and many cable providers, to a mobile option. Google Talk, Google Voice, Skype, and other platforms now make mobile the highest priority.

Officials will need to greenlight the new rule.

A call for GPS is part of a much larger 911 modernization drive at the FCC based on newer technology, especially from smartphones. With GPS, the US agency believes that lives could be saved by finding callers faster. Photos, texting, and video might also help by giving better visual references and, in potentially deadly criminal situations, warn the police without tipping off an attacker.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jfgilbert

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Great news

    At least the FCC thinks that the US government will still have employees to take 911 calls in 2018. It shows that they are optimists, or they do not watch the political debates.

  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969


    VoIP & finding people

    This might prove a waste of money. Quite a few VoIP phones will be in locations where they won't be able to see GPS satellites. They'd also be more easily traced with using their IP address, which in the case of broadband, will correlate directly to a street address.

    This time would also be better spend clarifying who can get cellular information when someone disappears. In Seattle, we've had a couple of cases where a husband and parents couldn't get that information. In one case, the wife, injured in a auto accident that left her out of sight of any road, was found just before she would have died of exposure. In the other case, a college student has yet to be found.

    Cellular registration should come with a list of people who can authorize the release of location tracking data.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Seems like a great idea. As for privacy concerns, government agencies can already track anyone with a cellphone at their discretion, so we might as well derive some benefit, giving rescue services the same level of access as the less servile branches of government.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Great news

    The US Government does not man 911 operations. That is a local/county/state thing.

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.


Network Headlines

Follow us on Facebook


Most Popular


Recent Reviews

Ultimate Ears Megaboom Bluetooth Speaker

Ultimate Ears (now owned by Logitech) has found great success in the marketplace with its "Boom" series of Bluetooth speakers, a mod ...

Kinivo URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones

We love music, and we're willing to bet that you do, too. If you're like us, you probably spend a good portion of your time wearing ...

Jamstik+ MIDI Controller

For a long time the MIDI world has been dominated by keyboard-inspired controllers. Times are changing however, and we are slowly star ...


Most Commented