FCC: Top Carriers Unite on Giving Americans Text-to-911

The top four carriers in the United States (AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp., and T-Mobile USA) are banding together for an admirable reason.

The wireless providers have agreed to accelerate the deployment of a feature that lets people send emergency text messages to 911 services.

The announcement came directly from the Federal Communications Commission.

Under the agreement, AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA Inc. will do “major deployments” of so-called text-to-911 in the U.S. next year.

“Access to 911 must catch up with how consumers communicate in the 21st century — and today, we are one step closer towards that vital goal,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said today.

The feature, which is to become available nationwide by May 15, 2014, will let most mobile users, including millions of people with hearing or speech disabilities, send emergency texts to 911 call centers, which are prepared to receive the messages, Genachowski said.

The FCC appears committed to taking any and all actions necessary to “ensure the public’s ability to reach 911 using text messaging.”