CRTC approves recommendations for compatible, reliable next-generation 9-1-1 networks

The various recommendations will help interconnectedness between network providers and public safety access points

CRTC logo on wall

The CRTC has approved recommendations related to “compatibility, reliability, resiliency, and security for” the next generation of 9-1-1 services that telecommunications service providers should implement by June 30th, 2020.

The CRTC’s Interconnection Steering Committee’s Emergency Services Working Group identified in its report various ways that compatibility and smooth interconnectedness can occur between existing original networks, the next generation of 9-1-1 networks and the networks belonging to the public safety answering points.

Right now, Canadians have basic 9-1-1 or enhanced 9-1-1 services through traditional wireline, wireless and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone services. Users are able to place a call, which travels from the network to the public safety answer point. The answering point will then dispatch emergency responders such as fire, police, and ambulance services.

It is the job of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to ensure that these services are available to all Canadians and are up to modern standards. The CRTC also ensures that telecom providers provide these services.

In 2014, the CRTC required that all Canadians start to have enhanced 9-1-1 services, which is also referred to as the next generation of services. In 2017, the CRTC established how the framework would look and roll out.

Specifically, among various points, the new report recommends that next-generation 9-1-1 network providers must include “certain compatibility, reliability, resiliency, and security measures,” in their service. The CRTC mandates telecom providers and encourages public safety answer points “to implement an end-to-end encryption strategy.” And it mandates the next-generation 9-1-1 network providers to keep with architectural standards and compliant with what is needed in a territory.

The CRTC indicated in its decision that the report has recommendations that are “appropriate, reasonable, and consistent” with the broader strategic objectives of the commission.

It is worth adding that the CRTC indicated that some of the recommendations will have public safety answer points make investments, which the CRTC said: “the level of which was not included in the report, the risks associated with the failure to meet these measures are not in the best interest of Canadians.”

With respect to the plan of implementing the next-generation 9-1-1 service, the CRTC required that by the end of February 2019, Bell and Telus start conducting trials of the next generation of 9-1-1 services.

Next-generation 9-1-1 network providers and other telecom service providers must support voice services by June 30th, 2020 and support text messaging by December 31st, 2020.

The current 9-1-1 networks should be decommissioned by June 30th, 2023, and that the next-generation of 9-1-1 services be interconnected to form a national network of networks.

The CRTC’s decision requires network providers of the next-generation 9-1-1 service to comply and make changes by June 30th, 2020. It asks that network providers provide information on interconnection specifications by January 6th, 2020 for the voice service aspect, and by June 30th, 2020 for the text messaging service.

Source: CRTC