The Federal Communications Commission’s E911 wireless location accuracy group ruled in 2015 that nationwide Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers must meet positioning requirements that ensure that all Americans have access to timely and effective emergency response when calling 911 from a mobile device in both indoor and outdoor locations. The most recent requirements for providers come into effect in April 2021. These new requirements are focused around z-axis positioning for top providers in top markets.
USA E-911 Requirements
In the US, the FCC passed in 2015 stringent 9-1-1 location rules for E-911 Phase II requirements for location accuracy. The requirements included:
- The ability to position handsets within a horizontal accuracy of 50 meters for 80% of all mobile calls by the beginning of April 2021 for the top 25 Cellular Market Areas.
- The ability to position handsets within a floor-level accuracy of 3 meters for 80% of all mobile calls in the top 25 cellular market areas (CMAs) in the United States, beginning this month, in April of 2021.
In a July 2020 action, the commission expanded the options for carriers to meet the deadlines, including:
- Carriers can meet the deadlines by deploying z-axis technology to cover 80% of the buildings that exceeded three stories within the cellular market, rather than 80% of the population.
- The principal z-axis location solutions available to CMRS providers in the near term can all be delivered via software upgrades to a wide range of legacy handsets.
- Afford nationwide CMRS providers the option of meeting vertical location accuracy requirements by deploying z-axis technology on handsets.
Providers must certify compliance with the vertical location accuracy requirements within 60 days after each benchmark.
First responders depend on accurate location from wireless 911 callers, and this requirement for horizontal accuracy helps callers in multi-level buildings get help faster. Z-axis positioning informs responders what floor they need to go to within a large building. Improving the accuracy of the vertical location information will help reduce emergency response times, and save lives. These requirements will be extended to cover the top 50 markets by 2023. Smaller carriers who do not fall in the nationwide carriers category have an extended timeline to meet the benchmarks.
Device Based Hybrid Positioning
Smartphones currently utilize not just GPS signals but also Wi-Fi and Cellar signals for positioning emergency calls. The combination of all these signals (Wi-Fi/GPS/Cellular) is often referred as device-based hybrid (DBH) and allows reliable emergency positioning in all environments. DBH requires hybrid positioning on devices using GNSS & Wi-Fi. Both GNSS and Wi-Fi positioning must be done by the device without assistance data from the operator. Wi-Fi positioning requires access to a crowdsourced wide area coverage database, like Skyhook’s.
The main method for vertical positioning (z-axis) for E-911 is to use barometric pressure measurements from sensors on a device or utilize 3D-WiFi databases where available.
Why Skyhook Precision Location Is A Strong Choice for Emergency Positioning
All these requirements are the core functionality of Skyhook’s Precision Location solution, which has been designed to meet these requirements and provide accurate and precise location in many environments. Skyhook enables emergency phone location through a device-based hybrid approach, using GNSS, Wi-Fi, ECID. Skyhook also supports floor-level Z-Axis positioning by combining 3D Wi-Fi with barometric pressure provide through a pre-certified integration with trusted Skyhook partners. Skyhook’s Emergency Positioning Software integrates onto mobile phone chipsets and operating systems to help carriers position devices on their networks when an emergency call is placed.
Skyhook's solution does not require a dedicated app installation or other action on the part of the user to work. Instead, the solution is already embedded onto the device firmware or operating system. This direct integration is made possible through collaboration with leading chipset manufacturers and operating system vendors. OEMs can take advantage of hardware that is pre-validated with Skyhook location software, which streamlines the development process of making devices that meet emergency location requirements.
Rooted in a legacy of deploying nationwide networks for E-911 for AT&T and T-Mobile, Skyhook understands the requirements and nuances of emergency location and can deliver features including:
- Standalone crowd-sourced Wi-Fi and ECID positioning methods with global coverage, in accordance with the 3GPP TS 38.305 technical specification.
- Help with completing a device-side location fix on handsets, without network assistance, when a location request is triggered by an emergency event.
- Network-only (Wi-Fi and Cell) results or hybrid location results to the solution (depending on the integration).
- Device-based hybrid (DBH) positioning over LPP and LPPe per the 3GPP 38.355 specification for E911 in the United States.
- IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) VoIP and VoWiFi emergency location reporting per the RFC4119 specification.
With over 17 years of technical expertise, and collaborations with leading ecosystem players, Skyhook is a great choice for emergency positioning.
Interested in learning more about Skyhook’s solution? Check out this solution sheet or get in touch with one of our experts.
If you want to find out more about emergency positioning requirements, download our white paper, which covers the history of emergency positioning, and requirements in other countries.