APCO – NENA Concept Paper






A Joint Facilitated Meeting at the NENA Annual Conference
Wednesday, June 27, 2001
Marriott World Center Resort
Orlando, Florida

Setting:  As described by the FCC, their wireless 9-1-1 rules “. . . seek to improve the reliability of wireless 9-1-1 services and to provide emergency services personnel with location information that will enable them to locate and provide assistance to wireless 9-1-1 callers much more quickly.” Under those rules, and upon a PSAP request, wireless carriers are required to provide wireless ALI level of service as part of Phase II E911 implementation beginning October 1, 2001. That implementation must occur within one of two separate accuracy requirements and deployment schedules associated with the two types of technology that exist today—i.e., network and handset-based solutions. A carrier must deploy a solution that complies with these standards, based presumably upon technology choice, testing, and other service related factors—all of which are of interest to the public safety community.

Approved deviation from FCC rules procedurally requires a waiver. As clarified in the Commission’s Fourth Memorandum Opinion and Order, “the Commission’s rules may be waived for good cause shown,” but only “if special circumstances warrant a deviation from the general rule, and such a deviation will serve the public interest.” By practice, waivers must meet the following tests:

Applicants should “specify the solutions they considered and explain why none could be employed.”
The public benefits of a waiver must outweigh the disadvantages to the public.
Waivers must be short-lived, with defined terminations.
Waiver applicants must set forth a “clear path to full compliance.”
If progress is delayed, “the carrier should specify the reason for the delay and provide a revised schedule.
There must be a viable fallback solution if the proposed alternative approach for compliance does not perform as expected.
Progress reports must be filed periodically.

So far, several wireless carriers have filed requests for waivers, including VoiceStream Wireless Corporation, Nextel Partners, Inc., and AT&T Wireless Services, Inc.—one of which, VoiceStream, has been granted. The other two are procedurally in review, and it is anticipated that other companies will be filing similar requests. Most of the other filed waiver requests beyond the three mentioned above, take one of the three as their model. These petitions are based largely upon individual company analysis and testing of available technology, in different settings, the results of which are just now being disclosed. It is essential that the public safety organizations (APCO, NENA and NASNA) thoroughly and effectively review these requests, with the intent to minimize their need, and foster timely and aggressive deployment. As described below, this joint project is designed to support that goal.

Project Overview: The project is a joint APCO/NENA/NASNA (also referred to as PS Associations) effort (referred to as “the Program” hereafter) to solicit comments from experts for the purpose of formulating a more enlightened FCC and regulatory policy regarding wireless company (WC) waiver requests FCC wireless rules as described above. Specifically, the PS Associations will solicit comments (anonymously if desired) from experts in the field, including but not limited to:

Wireless Companies
Location Determination Companies
Handset Manufacturers
Public Safety Officials
Third Party Providers.

During a three-week public comment period, comments will be solicited through a variety of means including association websites, list serves and direct mail. Comments will be based upon existing waiver requests, associated testing results, other testing that has occurred, and the state of technology that exists today, in light of the articulated tests for waivers. The comment period will culminate in a one-hour (or longer) facilitated discussion at the NENA Annual Conference on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 27, 2001, with the intent of consolidating and summarizing the comments provided.

The PS Associations will use the information gathered and distilled to help formulate their collective broader regulatory policy responses to the WC requests for waivers.

Program Specifics:

  1. PS Association staffs will collaborate on website and electronic messages to be transmitted to memberships and other interested parties.
  2. Said staffs will coordinate approved attendees at Wednesday’s presentation, with intent to structure a balanced forum for summarizing discussion. Facilitators for conference would logically be program chairs for respective organizations, Jim Goerke and Bill Hinkle.
  3. Nondisclosure arrangements would be offered to interested commenters, if absolutely necessary to protect proprietary interests.
  4. Jim Goerke will have lead responsibility (shared with Bill Hinkle on his return to US) for preparation of background collateral material for the project. At a minimum, such material should include:  Existing waiver requests, both pending and granted; Released WC testing results of location technology, and other similar resource material; NENA sponsored testing; and Other information provided by location technology vendors, providers and similar parties regarding the availability and “deployability” of existing product offerings.
  5. PS Associations, in parallel with this effort, will work on a comprehensive partnership agreement and public strategy with regard to overall Project Locate efforts.
  6. Comments from commenters will be sent in confidence to Mark Adams and John Ramsey. Executive Directors to provide internal control measures to ensure that confidentiality of commenters is preserved, if requested.
  7. FCC is provided an interim message from the PS Associations regarding nature of objections, status of talks with WC community, and planned future analysis of the waiver requests. This communication was discussed and agreed to by the parties of the PS Associations, and is being communicated to the FCC personnel pending the planning of the Forum.
  8. Meeting at the NENA conference will consist of a panel of experts (agreed to by the Associations) led by facilitators. The meeting will follow an agenda agreed to by the Associations, and provide a strategic review of comments submitted and distilled. The panel should be balanced in membership to insure an effective and objective technical review of the material involved.

The Panel, either collectively or by member, will present preliminary findings at the meeting. The floor of the meeting will be opened in a structured way to solicit comments from the audience. Both audience and panel comments will then be distilled further into a white paper produced by the Panel, and summarizing the results of the forum and project.

The white paper will be reviewed by the PS Association Policy team and used in the development of policy and position statements of the joint Associations. The Association team leaders will determine at the conclusion of the process whether the white paper, in full or in part will be published or disseminated.


The facilitated/led meeting at the NENA Annual Conference will culminate in a set of distilled findings and conclusions. While it is understood that some issues will be unresolved, the process and discussion, if effective, should illuminate several key assumptions relative to the waiver requests. Specifically, some of the issues that will be illuminated would be:

  1. The current state of the accuracy of location technology for the various formats, in handset and network scenarios.
  2. The interoperability issues relative to location technology and handset technology, if applicable.
  3. The availability of handset technology and cycle times for the delivery of the phones to WC for distribution.
  4. Issues concerning interoperability with LEC network technology.
  5. PSAP readiness issues relative to specific allegations, if any, contained in the waiver requests.
  6. Business project management considerations and limiting factors relative to the internal resource allocations of the WC requesting waivers, if applicable.
  7. Other specific factual scenarios identified by the wireless carriers.

Success Defined:

The Program will be successful if the joint PS Association response to the FCC is based on more information and understanding of the underlying state of technology, and a deeper understanding of the underlying facts offered in support of carrier waiver requests.

This process is not a substitute for a longer-range program on behalf of Project Locate, and NENA’s collaboration with Project Locate. Those programs and that work will continue to focus on the foregoing issues well beyond the Forum Event at the NENA Conference.