911 cell phone call tracking to be required

Cellular phone companies must soon provide the means to track a caller's location on 911 calls made from their phones, according to revised standards adopted on Wednesday by the Federal Communications Commission.

The new standards require cellular phone companies to use satellite-based Global Positioning System technology or other solutions to provide the Automatic Location Identification (ALI) capability within two years.

911 calls currently made from wired phones automatically inform the emergency dispatcher of the caller's location, but such a capability is not standard with cellular phones.

"The rules we adopt here will provide carriers with the ability to choose the best ALI technology option in light of their geographic coverage and customer base, whether it's a network or handset-based solution," said FCC commissioner Gloria Tristani in a statement. "Moreover, these rules may speed ALI deployment in rural areas, where as handset-based option may provide a more effective and less costly solution."

Tom Wheeler, president and chief executive officer of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, praised the FCC's decision for allowing the industry to keep up with advancing technology.

"Today's decision provides the flexibility to keep pace with technological advancements," Wheeler said in a statement. "The FCC is to be commended for its leadership on this issue and its recognition that consumer choice is an integral component of a competitive market."

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