There seems to be a lot of gray area when it comes to E911 contracts. What customers may not realize is, that although it may seem like E911 is “included” with their service, how included it is may vary depending, or it may just have a lot of fine print that makes it seem like “included” is only to a degree.
Some services put in their terms that E911 is not necessarily automatic, that the end user must separately take affirmative steps to register their address, among other things, to ensure that they are, in fact, covered by E911.
Nothing is more frustrating and worrisome to the subscriber, because something as important as being able to call 911 if the need arises is as important as air is to breathe.
Mark J. Fletcher discusses this very common scenario in regards to E911 contracts, and that sometimes customers don’t realize that they are, quite literally, signing their life away.
It all comes down to reading and understanding the Master Service Agreement with your provider. Unfortunatley, customers can’t rely on having faith in their providers when they say “yes” to the question of “is my E911 included?” because, the simple fact remains that the Master Service Agreement will have all the specific terms to the E911 contract agreement, and it’s not always pretty, or even automatic.
To protect a client’s best interest, Fletcher cites telecom consultant and attorney Martha Buyer, who says that trouble lies in the verbiage of the agreement. Specifically, a large carrier had in its agreement with one of her clients a few iffy points, such as “carrier strongly advises that the Customer does not allow any number to become active unless the PS-ALI and the PSAP database updates for each number have been completed,” and “tt is the Customer's responsibility to understand the state laws that pertain to them in regards to E911 requirements and compliance obligations; Carrier specifically disclaims any such obligation.”
Of course, customers not in the know may not realize that PS-ALI is necessary. PS-ALI stands for private switch-automatic location identification. In a nutshell, it’s an enhancement of E911 if you’re a PBX (News - Alert), as it will help the E911 operator direct emergency response to your correct location. Providers needed to meet requirements with E911, and so PS-ALI was the answer to getting accurate location and detailed situation information in the event of an emergency.
What these finer points in the aforementioned agreement make clear is that “included with service” is up for debate. Essentially, customer requirements are far from being met. The bottom line is carriers should require E911 in their agreements and, for customers, it is important to know and understand what those requirements include.
Edited by Rich Steeves