"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.
Text-to-911 will provide consumers with enhanced access to emergency communications in situations where a voice call could endanger the caller, or a person with disabilities is unable to make a voice call.
In addition, to help eliminate consumer confusion while text-to-911 capability is being phased-in, the carriers have committed to provide an automatic "bounce back" text message to notify consumers if their attempt to reach 911 via text message was unsuccessful because this service is not yet available in their area. Such a message would instruct the recipient to make a voice call to a 911 center. The four carriers will fully implement this "bounce back" capability across their networks by June 30, 2013, FCC said.