Four top U.S. mobile phone service companies have agreed to set up a service to allow people to send text messages to emergency aid call center 911, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) said.
At present, emergency 911 services can be accessed only through a phone call. The change will particularly help people with hearing or speech disabilities.
AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications, Sprint Nextel Corp and T-Mobile have agreed to provide text-to-911 services, with major deployments expected in 2013, the FCC said in a statement. The service should be available nationwide by May 15, 2014.
The carriers have committed to provide an automatic “bounce back” text message by June 30, 2013 if text-to-911 is unavailable in their area. The message would tell users to make a voice call to a 911 center until the program is rolled out.