Sunday, July 3, 2022

AT&T now uses a device’s GPS location to route 911 calls

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AT&T says it is the first carrier to implement location-based routing for 911 calls nationwide, a feature that allows the company to send emergency wireless calls to the appropriate call center based on a device’s GPS location. As announced in a press releaseAT&T says the feature should allow the carrier to accurately locate and route 911 calls within 50 meters of where the call was placed.

AT&T previously forwarded calls based on the location of the cell tower that picked up the call signal, an area that could cover a 10-mile radius. This means a call center miles away — or even an entire city away — can receive your call, potentially delaying the time it takes for emergency services to reach your exact location. In theory, location-based routing should help solve this problem by connecting callers to the right call centers for the fastest response times.

As indicated by Heavy wirelessAT&T said it won’t use the feature to track the locations of mobile devices and it will only be enabled when you call 911. An AT&T spokesperson further clarified to the outlet that only the call center coordinators will know your location. In 2019, a report was published by Motherboard revealed that mobile carriers resold user location data that eventually ended up on the black market, available for guarantors and bounty hunters to buy.

For starters, location-based routing is not available nationwide. So far, the feature has gone live in Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Guam. AT&T says it will add support for “additional regions” over the coming weeks and expects nationwide support “by the end of June.” In 2020, T-Mobile announced it was launching location-based routing; however, it has still not been made available nationwide.

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) instructed AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon to: vertical location (z-axis) transmit information to call centers to help dispatchers identify the exact location of a caller from a multi-storey building. After miss an implementation deadline instituted by the FCC, the agency gives carriers until June 2, 2022 to certify their deployment.

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