Venable partner Jamie Barnett was quoted in a December 30, 2016, Communications Daily article on next generation 911 legislation being drafted by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). The bill, expected to be introduced later this month, stems from outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s call to update and modernize the nation’s emergency 911 system.
Barnett said there is a strong need for "a concerted, national effort to upgrade" the country's 911 system. He called on Congress to partner with states and provide funding for 911 infrastructure updates or face the possibility that the system will "become increasingly fragile." He also warned that one disaster could derail the system for weeks or months creating an "unacceptable risk."
Barnett emphasized the importance of harmonizing next generation 911 with the pending FirstNet broadband network. "Major telecommunication providers have targeted 2020 as the completion date for their transition to advanced, all-IP networks," he said. "By the same time, law enforcement, fire, and EMS responders in the field should have access to a nationwide mobile broadband network. Unless Congress acts, however, the critical link between the public and field responders will still be mired in incompatible and expensive-to-maintain last-century technology. That would be a tragedy."