TextPlus plans to add 911 bounceback message to OTT app
Messaging provider textPlus said in an FCC filing that the company soon plans to create a bounceback message for users who attempt to send messages to 911. The news is notable considering the FCC is working to ensure that messages sent to 911 are received by emergency personnel.
"The textPlus application currently responds to users who try to text 911 by providing a bounce back message indicating that the number is not recognized or a similar message," textPlus said in a recent FCC filing. "While the current textPlus bounce back message is not unique to 911 calls, textPlus anticipates changing its bounce back message protocol very soon to provide for a message that is unique to 911 service."
Essentially, the company said the bounceback function would alert users who attempt to send a message to 911 that they will instead need to call 911 in order to connect with emergency personnel.
The company said making the change would require altering the code of the textPlus app, but that it won't require any changes on the company's servers. TextPlus said it plans to add the 911 bounceback function in the "near future" through an application update. The company didn't specifically explain what would happen when users attempt to text 911, noting only that "the textPlus bounce back message that is unique to 911 will feature a pop-up bubble that appears as soon as the user types 911 into the address field for the text message. This feature could save critical time in an emergency situation."
The company declined to comment beyond its FCC filing.
The FCC proposed late last year that all wireless carriers and providers of over-the-top messaging applications like Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iMessage provide customers with tex-to-911 services. The proposed rule changes are part of an ongoing overhaul of the FCC's Next-Generation 911 rules. The FCC's rules would require wireless carriers to deliver SMS messages to local 911 call centers (Public Safety Answering Points, or PSAPs) that can receive the texts. The rules would also cover OTT services like iMessage and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) Messenger.
Thus, textPlus' bounceback efforts could represent a first step along the road to full text-to-911 support, where textPlus users could communicate directly with emergency responders through text messages.
Also late last year, the nation's Tier 1 wireless carriers--Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA--agreed to offer nationwide text-to-911 services by May 15, 2014.
TextPlus is one of the few OTT messaging providers that has filed comments in the FCC's text-to-911 proceeding. Apple also has said it is working on "bounce back" functions for iMessages that are sent to 911.
TextPlus recently inked a deal with Clearwire and Sprint Nextel MVNO FreedomPop to power FreedomPop's planned voice and messaging services.
- see this textPlus filing
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FCC explores whether Apple's iMessage should comply with text-to-911 service
Tier 1 carriers to launch nationwide text-to-911 service by mid-2014
Verizon-Intrado 911 texting service gets just 1 SMS
Carriers set to turn on emergency alert system
Article updated April 30 to clarify textPlus' plans for 911.