Nebraskans Face Wireless Surcharge to Cover 911 System Upgrades

Last week, North Platte held the second of two required public hearings under a 2016 law guiding the state’s adoption of Next Generation 911 technology, reported the North Platte Telegraph. Nebraska’s local law enforcement agencies and dispatchers welcomed a revised plan for retaining locally based 911 centers while gradually converting and linking them into a wireless, fully digitized system.

To pay for the system, the Mission Critical Services firm proposed funding the NextGen 911 with an existing but increased state wireless surcharge. Mission Critical Services advised the Nebraska Public Service Commission to double the state’s monthly surcharge of 45 cents per line, paid by wireless customers to provide existing wireless 911 service.  

The benefits of NextGen 911 allow residents to not only make 911 calls but also share relevant text messages, data, photos, and videos more easily with dispatchers and first responders, reported the North Platte Telegraph. The new system will also offer greater precision in locating an emergency call than existing wireless 911 services, including landline-based ones.

Regarding the infrastructure, Eric Caddy, Mission Critical Partners’ senior project manager, is recommending a hybrid NextGen 911 network with a statewide broadband backbone to interconnect existing local and regional 911 centers.

According to state 911 Director David Sankey, this type of build out “preserves local control of 911 centers” and if one center is disabled by a natural or manmade disaster, another 911 center could handle its calls until service is restored. Currently, these types of handoffs are impossible, Sankey noted.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission must develop and submit a NextGen 911 plan to state lawmakers under the Legislative Bill 938.

October 11, 2017   

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