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New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008

Location: Washington, DC

NEW AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES 911 IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2008 -- (Extensions of Remarks - June 24, 2008)

MONDAY, JUNE 23, 2008

* Mr. GORDON of Tennessee. Madam Speaker, I rise today to offer unanimous consent to consider the Senate amendment to H.R. 3403, the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008.

* When Americans dial 911, they expect the call will go through, regardless of what phone they use. That is why Congress acted in 1999 and 2004 to ensure all Americans had access to 911 services on their wireless phones.

* Congress now needs to act to ensure that all Americans have access to lifesaving 911 services on their Voice over the Internet Protocol or VoIP phones and other new technologies.

* When I first drafted this legislation in 2005, the intent was to integrate VoIP phones into the Nation's 911 system. Since then the bill has been expanded to include nonvoice technologies used by the deaf and hard of hearing community and other innovative technologies that will exponentially improve public safety for all Americans.

* Specifically, the bill will provide VoIP phone service providers direct access to the 911 system at the same rates, terms and conditions, as wireless phone providers. The bill also authorizes VoIP service providers to share customer location information with public safety answering points, PSAPs. This will ensure VoIP services providers can provide full E-911 services to their customers.

* The bill extends existing State laws protecting 911 calls made using wireline and wireless phones to not only VoIP 911 calls, but also to any service obligated by the FCC to provide 911 in future, and any service that coordinates with local 911 authorities to offer voluntary 911 emergency services. This will include Video Relay Services and text service used by the deaf and hard of hearing, and new car based 911 services.

* By doing this, we will encourage the rapid deployment of innovative new lifesaving 911 technologies, rather than wait for Congress to extend essential liability protections to new technologies.

* The bill preserves State, Tribal and local governments' authority to levy 911 fees and stops such fees from being diverted for non 911 purposes.

* Finally, the legislation seeks to modernize the Nation's 911 system by requiring the National 911 Coordination Office to establish a national plan to move to an IP-based emergency response network, and allowing 911 PSAP grants to be used for IP-based equipment.

* Today's 911 system uses 30-year-old wire and switch technology. Moving to an IP-based system will enable PSAPs for the first time to be interoperable with each other and other first responders. It will also allow them to handle a range of technologies--digital or analog, wireless phone, video, text messaging, data, satellite, VoIP, translation services and even maps of buildings. And it will allow PSAPs to stay operating even if the phone system goes down or their physical locations are destroyed. Events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina where 911 systems were overwhelmed highlight why a robust IP based 911 system must be a priority.

* H.R. 3403 is supported by the National Emergency Numbering Association, the VON Coalition, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Earthlink, Inc, the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology, Motorola, Intrado, the TeleCommunications Systems, Inc., and the U.S. Telecommunications Association.

* I want to thank the Energy and Commerce Committee and its staff for the bipartisan effort to move this bill quickly.

* I also want to thank Senator TED STEVENS, Senator BILL NELSON, the Senate sponsor of the bill, and the co-chairs of E-911 Congressional Caucus Representative ANNA ESHOO, Representative JOHN SHIMKUS, Senator HILLARY CLINTON.

* Working collaboratively with public safety, the deaf and disabled community and the communications industry, we have produced a bill that will greatly improve 911 services in America today and for the future.

* I'll close by encouraging my colleagues to vote for this bill.

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