AT&T wins IP-based 911 contract with State of Kansas

AT&T (NYSE: T) was awarded a contract to deploy a new next-gen 911 system for the State of Kansas from the state's 911 Coordinating Council.

As an IP-based system, AT&T said that the new 911 network will provide access to emergency services from any connected communications sources whether it is from a wireline or wireless device. The system also provides multimedia data capabilities for Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), and other emergency service organizations.

Leveraging Airbus DS Communications' VESTA 911 call processing solution, AT&T plans to use a mix of cloud, wireless and wireline technologies to improve the state's 911 services.

The Kansas 911 Coordinating Council said it expects the next-gen 911 system to enhance the speed, security and reliability of communications between operators, dispatchers and first responders. The system can support the state's 348 call taking positions and 117 PSAPs and allow seamless communication between cities, counties and municipalities.

To support his new 911 system, AT&T will build a private cloud service in its data centers. All of the call takers in Kanasas' PSAPs will access the cloud via a broadband connection. Additionally, first responders, PSAP dispatchers and operators will have nearly instant access to 911 event data from virtually any connected location. AT&T said it expects the system to support other capabilities such as Text-to-911 and multimedia messaging in the future.

Another angle to the system is business continuity. The system will allow operators to log in, manage calls and dispatch emergency services from any PSAP linked to the system in the event of a catastrophic event like a tornado.

AT&T's 911 contract win comes at a time when the FCC is placing more scrutiny on how these systems operate, particularly as the interconnected nature of the IP-based systems means that a storm or a software glitch in one part of a state could affect 911 service in another area.

Earlier this year, the FCC fined CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) for 911 outages.

CenturyLink was fined $16 million for a 911 outage that affected multiple states in its territory. According to the FCC, the April 2014 outage prevented more than 11 million people in seven states from being able to reach emergency call centers for over six hours. Additionally, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) had to pay the FCC a $3.4 million fine for not disclosing a 911 outage in March.

For more:
- see the release
- WSJ has this article

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