FCC considering backup system to prevent 911 service outages

The U.S. FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has said it is looking into options for ways to power backup phone systems that would allow people to call 911 emergency services even in the event of a disaster or other causes of power outage. This comes after the FCC says it has observed a rise in 911 service outages, not necessarily caused by storms, but by software and database failures.

Many residential users have their phone system tied to their broadband internet service. But traditional phone service running on copper wire will continue to work during power outages. Thus, one of the proposals put forth by the FCC is a backup battery system that keep broadband-based phones running when there is no power.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote in a blog post yesterday that their next step would be to look into rules over how residents and phone companies would share responsibilities for such backup systems. Also they would be seeking comments from the public about what kind of requirements there should be for backup batteries.

Wheeler noted that the need to improve continuous 911 service has become noticeable recently. The government's Public Safety Bureau noted how in April of this year a service outage caused by software failure left 7 states without the ability to call 911 for as much as 6 hours. The result was roughly 6,600 calls for emergency services that couldn't be completed.

VIA NY Times