911 Services Unreliable, Based on Outdated Technology

by Istvan Fekete on November 22, 2013

Roger’s four-hour, country-wide voice and text outage left nine million Canadians in the dark last month. This outage shed light on a troubling side of technological change: as more and more Canadians are opting for wireless services, they are limiting their options during the worst moments of their lives, the 911 call, the Huffington Post highlights.

What the outage brought: Rogers subscribers suddenly lost contact with friends, family, and emergency services. The company’s recommendation to use landlines in cases of emergency was fair, but considering that 20% of Canadian households rely on wireless providers, just wasn’t satisfactory.

As the Huffington Post points out, 9% of Canadian homes are estimated to have opted for cellphone-only, and this number is expected to grow by one-third by 2015.

The newspaper have conducted a survey into how many of their readers have cut the cord on landlines, and the numbers are shocking: 50% of the 1,000 surveyed readers had got rid of their landlines.

But there is another important technical challenge wireless players need to face: 70% of 911 calls are now made from wireless devices, yet the system still relies on technology built for landlines during the 1960s and 1970s.

Experts say 911 technologies aren’t equipped for existing twenty-first-century telecommunications, including VoIP calling and mobile phones. “The advent of the cellphone has overloaded 911 operations; some say stress on the system puts public safety at risk and upgrades are urgently needed”, the experts cited by the Huffington Post say.

The CRTC reacted to the issue a day after the Rogers outage occurred and asked for public feedback on a report ahead of the country’s first-ever 911 services review. The regulator plans a massive overhaul of the outdated emergency call system.

We hope that the transition toward next-generation 911 services will be made quickly.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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