FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy to Address Hill Forum to Address E9-1-1 Implementation and Federal Funding Shortage

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FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy to Address Hill Forum to Address E9-1-1 Implementation and Federal Funding Shortage

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For Immediate Release Contact: Gregory L. Rohde
Feb. 3, 2005 202-292-4603

FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy to Address Hill Forum to Address E9-1-1 Implementation and Federal Funding Shortage

Washington, D.C. FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy will keynote a Hill forum sponsored jointly by the Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus and the E-9-1-1 Institute on Feb.10. Commissioner Abernathy will address implementation issues facing E9-1-1. Her address will be followed by panel discussion on implementation of 9-1-1 systems, with emphasis on the need for federal funding for E9-1-1 services.

"While we have seen regulatory leadership from the FCC in the E9-1-1 arena, the federal government has not provided much of any financial assistance to help advance E9-1-1," said Gregory L. Rohde, Executive Director of the E9-1-1 Institute. "So far, state and local governments, LECs, and wireless providers, bear the burden of funding E9-1-1 upgrades."

Last year, Congress passed legislation, the ENHANCE 9-1-1 Act of 2004, that authorized a new federal grant program and national coordinating office to advance E9-1-1 services. The grant program will help states and localities implement E9-1-1 systems. However, Congress has not yet provided the funding for the new program. "Congress provided a major step forward towards making E9-1-1 implementation a national priority last year with the passage of the ENHANCE 9-1-1 Act. Now the challenge is funding it," Rohde said.

Rohde noted that states are often not using funds which had had been allocated for 9-1-1- upgrades for that purpose. A Government Accountability Office report from November, 2003, found that 13 states and the District of Columbia used funds that should have gone for wireless E9-1-1 programs for other purposes. In February, 2004, New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi reported the state diverted more than 40 percent of revenues from a cell phone surcharge that should have gone to E9-1-1 systems for other purposes. The ENHANCE 9-1-1 Act created incentives for states to stop the diversion of 9-1-1 funds that are collected from consumers for that specific purpose.

Following Commissioner Abernathy, there will be a panel discussion with Shawn Reese, of the Congressional Research Service; David Aylward, of the ComCare Alliance, which represents telecommunications companies, public safety agencies and medical personnel to encourage use of advanced telecommunications technology to save lives; and Richard Taylor, president of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), which represents organizations to advance the use of 9-1-1 for emergencies.

The event will be Feb. 10, from 12:30 p.m.- 2 p.m. in Room 902 of the Senate Hart Office Building. RSVP to 202-293-4603 or to glr@e911institute.org

About the E911 Institute. The E9-1-1 Institute (www.e911institute.org) is a not-for-profit organization which provides administrative and policy support to the Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus. The purpose of the E9-1-1 Institute is to promote pubic education and awareness of E9-1-1 and emergency communications issues and serve the Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus as a clearinghouse of information on E9-1-1 and emergency communications issues. Gregory L. Rohde, former Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, serves as the E9-1-1 Institute's Executive Director.

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