TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Satellite GPS Can Locate Wireless Phones Within 15 Feet

Re: Satellite GPS Can Locate Wireless Phones Within 15 Feet
Mon, 5 Dec 2005 00:00:00 EST

About six years ago in this Digest, Arthur Ross responded to Bud
Couch discussing Satellite GPS and its use with wireless phones and
E-911 service. Can I please get an update now at the end of 2005
and how this technology might be put to use with the dilemma VOIP
service finds itself in; locating the person and place of trouble?


Date: Mon, 5 Jul 1999 15:35:04 -0700
From: Arthur Ross <>
Subject: Re: Satellite GPS Can Locate Wireless Phones Within 15 Feet

Bud Couch <> wrote:

> The FCC would never dare to mandate this "feature" -- the ability to
> track individual citizens without either their knowledge or consent.
> Both the legal and political outcry would be immediate and effective.
> Did someone of social and political naivete come up with this on their
> own, or was it a sub-rosa suggestion from the NSA or one of the other
> spook agencies? We'll probably never know, but it makes no difference;
> the techniques should not have been thought out by Lucent engineers,
> and the concept should have been quashed by Lucent management.

Sorry, that's EXACTLY what they have done. I personally believe that
there originally was no nefarious motive on the part of the FCC, but,
as Lauren pointed out elsewhere in that same issue of TD, there is
all sorts of potential for mis-use and abuse, both in real time and
after-the-fact -- "usage creep."

From CFR 47 20.18, 10-1-98 Edition:

"(e) Phase II enhanced 911 services. As of October 1, 2001, licensees
subject to this section must provide to the disignated Public Safety
Answering Point the location of all 911 calls by longitude and latitude
such that the accuracy for all calls is 125 meters or less using a Root
Mean Square (RMS) methodology."

The full text of CFR 47, and other FCC documents and proceedings can be
found on the FCC website (

Some recent remarks by the Chairman of the Wireless Bureau (also from FCC

Remarks of Tom Sugrue
Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
911 Critical Issues Forum
Integrating Transportation, EMS and 9-1-1: A Vision for the Future
Alexandria, Virginia
May 21, 1999

As prepared for delivery.

Thank you very much for your kind introduction.

I would especially like to thank you on behalf of Chairman Kennard. He
appreciated the invitation to join you today and regretted the fact
that other commitments kept him from being here. Moving forward on
public safety programs such as wireless E911 is one of the Chairman's
highest priorities.

Exactly two years ago today, on May 21, 1997, at a meeting very like
this one, the FCC joined NHTSA and Dr. Martinez to issue a call to
action for implementation of wireless enhanced 9-1-1. Emergencies
occur where there are people, not necessarily where there are phone
lines. Because wireless phones can travel wherever we do, wireless
9-1-1 has proved to be the greatest advancement in public access to
emergency services since the birth of 9-1-1 itself in 1968. Wireless
9-1-1 has saved countless lives and brought help to millions of people
over the years. But, as we recognized in our call to action, a great
deal of planning and work were needed to make wireless technology a
more effective component of the overall system of providing help in

For example, if you call 9-1-1 today on a wireless phone, the 9-1-1
dispatcher will not know where you are, where help is needed. You must
be able to describe your location, or at least where to begin looking,
before help can arrive. This can delay and vastly complicate the work
of emergency response teams. A week ago today, for instance, a man not
far from here in Fairfax was traveling only as far as from his home to
a nearby gas station on a riding lawn mower. It overturned in a ditch
and trapped him underneath. He managed to use his cellular phone to
call 9-1-1, help eventually arrived, and he escaped without serious
major injury. But it took scores of police, aided by a helicopter,
almost an hour to find him. If the 9-1-1 dispatcher had known the
location of his phone, help could have arrived much faster, and that
help could have been, not scores of police, but a single officer. And
not a fleet of vehicles and a helicopter, but one squad car and an

When we joined with NHTSA in 1997, we reported that 47 million
Americans had wireless phones and they made 59,000 emergency calls
each day. Today, the American desire for mobility and communication
has proved so powerful that the number of wireless phones has grown by
57% to over 74 million. And the use of those phones to seek emergency
help has grown even faster. In just those two years, the volume of
wireless 9-1-1 calls has increased by 66%, to over 98,000 calls every
day. Those calls are saving lives, bringing help to people in need,
and preventing crime. As we saw most recently and tragically in
Littleton, Colorado, the wireless phone has become for many Americans,
including our children, the lifeline to help in any emergency.

At the FCC, we have adopted a number of rules designed to improve
wireless 9-1-1 service. For example, our rules require that the
wireless carriers handle all 9-1-1 calls and route them to the 9-1-1
center designated by state and local public safety authorities. And
just last week, the FCC adopted rules requiring manufacturers to
modify analog cellular handsets to help improve 9-1-1 call completion,
allowing 9-1-1 calls to be handled by either cellular carrier. That
proceeding addressed the "dead zone" problem, in which callers may
find themselves unable to complete 911 calls because their preferred
cellular provider does not provide service in a particular geographic
area. The rules we adopted last week will help to improve this
situation by facilitating completion of 911 calls by the other
cellular carrier. This proceeding prompted much debate, and the
Commission -- working in concert with consumer groups, the public
safety community, the cellular industry, and handset manufacturers --
was able to craft a flexible policy which will improve wireless 911
call completion by requiring handset manufacturers to use any one of
three approved call completion modes, at their discretion.

In addition, in what is commonly referred to as Phase1 of our wireless
E911 rules, covered carriers are required, as of April 1 1998, to
provide automatic number identification (ANI) and cell site
information for 911 calls to PSAPS. In what is referred to as Phase II
of our rules, effective October 1, 2001 all covered carriers will be
required to identify the location of mobile units making 911 calls
within a radius of no more than 125 meters.

Unfortunately, Phase I deployment has been slow, and some difficult
issues have arisen as we prepare for Phase II. In addition to the
development of effective location technology, wireless E911 requires
funding mechanisms, upgrading of 9-1-1 equipment to understand and use
wireless location information, coordination with local telephone
carriers and their existing 9-1-1 databases, and the management of
emergency systems to make rapid and effective use of this information.
Many technical, legal, and regulatory questions will need to be
resolved. To take one example, we need to be sure that our rules
permit the most effective technologies to be used to provide location
information, whether that technology resides in the wireless network,
the handset, or both. We should encourage our inventors and
entrepreneurs to surprise us once again with their innovations and
creativity in developing wireless location technology.

These efforts are only one aspect of the Commission's efforts to apply
wireless technology to public safety needs. The Commission will
conclude a proceeding this year which may allocate additional spectrum
to help meet the communications needs of emergency service
agencies. The Commission is also currently studying the Transportation
Department's request to establish an abbreviated three-digit dialing
code that would allow consumers to access intelligent transportation
systems nationwide. Wireless technology can also be used, under our
safety warning system rules adopted earlier this year, to alert
motorists to hazardous road and driving conditions. Jim Schlichting,
Deputy Chief of the Wireless Bureau, will be participating on a panel
following this session, and will provide more information on the range
of activities we are undertaking in this area.

The Commission will once again need to reach out to all the critical
parts of the community represented here today to turn the promise
wireless E911 into lifesaving reality. And we are working diligently
to do precisely that. For example, we are planning to sponsor a forum
in the near future to examine the technical issues of wireless
automatic location information. We expect to pursue other efforts in
the very near term to seek input from the essential participants in
wireless E911 to resolve these issues.

With wireless E911 in place, calls can be routed to the right 9-1-1
center, which can then quickly dispatch the help that is needed, and
only the help that is needed, to exactly the right place. That is the
promise of wireless E911. But it will remain only a promise unless we
succeed in making wireless E911 an integrated part of public safety

NHTSA is to be complemented for taking a leadership role in promoting
such an integrated nationwide public safety system, with programs such
as its emergency medical services agenda for the future and its trials
of automatic crash notification systems.

These and other initiatives can improve the safety of our highways,
and indeed of our lives wherever we might be. We have made progress in
that direction since our call to action with NHTSA two years ago, but
far more remains to be done. By the time E911 Phase II is scheduled to
be implemented in 2001, there will be over 100 million wireless phones
in use in the United States. In just a few more years, it is likely
that there will be more wireless than wireline phones. We can expect
equally rapid growth in wireless 9-1-1 calls. This means that the
importance of adapting emergency services to wireless E911 will
continue to grow as well.

We at the FCC are resolved to continue working with NHTSA and NENA to
apply wireless technology to the improvement of public safety. In
particular, we recently invited Dr. Martinez to participate in a
Commission meeting next month dedicated to wireless issues, to help
ensure that the vital role of wireless in emergency services and
public safety is given the attention it deserves. To Dr. Martinez,
NENA and to all of you here, representing some of the many
organizations that must work together to realize this vision, we urge
you to continue the vital work of making America a better and safer

Thank you for the opportunity to address you this morning.

******** End of Remarks by Tom Sugrue ********

-- Dr. Arthur Ross
2325 East Orangewood Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85020-4730
Phone: 602-371-9708
Fax : 602-336-7074

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Can Dr. Ross or other readers update us
on this technology and how it might be used with VOIP if possible? PAT]

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