NICE
PSC eNews Weekly
Wednesday, December 23, 2020

We are happy to report that Section 902 of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021,” which awaits the President’s signature, includes provisions that repeal the prior requirement that the T-Band be reallocated from public safety use and direct the FCC to take additional steps to combat 9-1-1 fee diversion. After years of intense effort on the part of APCO and other public safety groups, public safety agencies will continue to be able to use the T-Band to serve their mission-critical communications needs. APCO was pleased to work with congressional staff on legislative language related to 9-1-1 fee diversion that was paired with the T-Band provision as part of a critical compromise.

 

The Federal Communications Commission recently issued rules requiring voice service providers to reduce unwanted and fraudulent robocalling. As a result, service providers will begin blocking certain types of calls, including calls having unassigned, invalid or non-dialable telephone numbers, or no calling number at all (e.g., showing “unknown” or “private” to the called party). This is important for APCO’s members because, for example, some ECCs use unassigned numbers for 9-1-1 call-backs, for mass outbound notifications and certain other calls. Although the FCC specified that service providers should not block calls from public safety entities, including ECCs, some accidental blocking is possible.

Service providers must make reasonable efforts to avoid blocking calls from ECCs and must establish a single point of contact to resolve inadvertent blocking. The contact information must be published clearly and conspicuously on the providers’ public-facing websites. Service providers must investigate and resolve these blocking disputes in a reasonable amount of time and at no cost, so long as the complaint is made in good faith.

ECCs can take several steps to reduce the likelihood that their calls will be blocked. For example:

  • If your system is currently configured to insert an invalid or unassigned number as the calling number for outbound calls (whether for 9-1-1 call-backs, transfers of calls between PSAPs, or any other scenarios), start using valid telephone numbers. 
  • If your system inserts invalid numbers into the calling number field for outbound calls and cannot be reconfigured to avoid doing so, contact your service provider so it can take steps to minimize the risk that the calls are blocked.
  • If your system uses caller ID blocking without sending calling number information, it may be necessary to change this practice. 
  • If your system performs mass outbound notifications from the same telephone number, contact your service provider so it can take steps to minimize the risk that the calls are misidentified as spam calls.

More information, including tips on how to avoid having calls blocked, is available on the FCC’s call blocking page.

 

Last week, APCO and others suing the Federal Communications Commission to overturn rules permitting new unlicensed use that threatens public safety and other 6 GHz microwave links filed their primary legal brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Public safety agencies rely on the 6 GHz band to support critical 9-1-1 and first responder communications. As the sole party representing public safety agencies, APCO ensured that public safety’s unique concerns were voiced to the court. Stay tuned for further updates as this legal battle continues. Get background information on APCO’s efforts to protect public safety use of the 6 GHz band.

 

On December 21, APCO filed comments with the FCC on the feasibility and benefits of providing dispatchable location information with calls to 9‑8‑8. As background, the Suicide Hotline Act designated 9‑8‑8 as the phone number for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system and directed the FCC to investigate the possibility of providing location information with calls to 9‑8‑8. APCO pointed out that for calls to the crisis hotline that result in calls or transfers to emergency communications centers, having accurate location information could improve the emergency response.

 
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