New research highlights deficiencies in Canada's proposed wireless enhanced 9-1-1 services

    Canada significantly lags behind the U.S. in implementation of enhanced
    wireless capabilities

    TORONTO, June 29 /CNW/ - Canadian public safety experts view Canada as
"late in the game" in adopting new rules to implement wireless enhanced 9-1-1
(E9-1-1) services and there is a definitive need for regulators to play a
stronger role in setting national wireless E9-1-1 policies and standards, a
new research study conducted by leading IT market research and advisory firm
IDC Canada Ltd. reveals.
    The research includes a comparative study by IDC on wireless enhanced
E9-1-1 services offered in Canada, the United States and Europe. In addition,
IDC sought the views of a select number of leading Canadian first responder
organizations that are stakeholders in the use of wireless E 9-1-1 services
and Canada's approach to implementation.
    Although safety officials at first responder organizations generally
applaud the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
for releasing a policy on wireless E9-1-1 in early 2009, it has left important
features to further study and implementation at an unspecified time. There is
a general consensus that this lag in adoption and lack of accuracy standards
will continue to impede the provision of effective location-based emergency
dispatch services to wireless users by Canadian public safety bodies.
    There is a widely recognized need among the Canadian public safety
community for the CRTC to take a definitive leadership role in cooperation
with municipalities in setting national wireless E9-1-1 policies and
    Recent experience in Canada demonstrates that the wide-spread adoption of
wireless communications poses a number of problems for public safety
officials, particularly how to effectively dispatch emergency response
services when 9-1-1 calls are made on cell phones.
    There are more than 21 million wireless subscribers in Canada and over
half of all 9-1-1 calls in Canada and the U.S. now come from cell phones. The
number of wireless subscribers in Canada overtook the number of land lines for
the first time in 2007 and IDC Canada expects wireless penetration in Canada
to rise to 27 million subscribers, or almost 80 per cent of Canada's estimated
population in 2012.
    Although cellular phones are often viewed as safety devices, it is not
commonly realized that 9-1-1 calls may not be located accurately - delaying
the response time. Under many circumstances, caller location has to be
verified verbally and is therefore subject to human error, increasing the risk
of life-threatening emergencies if a caller is unable to speak.
    "Effective implementation of wireless enhanced E9-1-1 services is of
great concern to emergency service providers particularly with major
international events, such as the 2010 Olympics, coming to Canada," said
Lawrence Surtees, IDC Canada Vice President, Communications Research and
Principal Analyst. "Canada is significantly lagging behind the U.S. as well as
Europe in adopting wireless emergency service technology. This technology
exists today and it is imperative that Canada's emergency call centres are
well equipped to quickly and accurately pinpoint the location of a 9-1-1 cell
phone caller."
    The U.S. took the lead in putting the issue of wireless E-911 on the
agenda 15 years ago, mandating that all cell phone manufacturers must ensure
that their handsets are E9-1-1 capable.
    The CRTC recently required Canadian wireless service providers to
implement a wireless Phase II E9-1-1 service, noting that an equivalent
service is currently deployed in the U.S. However, the CRTC's Phase II E9-1-1
policy is deficient compared to the services currently provided to U.S.
wireless users.

    Several public safety concerns with the CRTC Phase II E9-1-1 policy have
    been identified, including:

    -  Percentage of mobile phones with Phase II E9-1-1 location capability

    In the U.S., more than 95 per cent of phones have high-accuracy E9-1-1
location capability.
    The CRTC policy will result in as few as 30 per cent of Canadian mobile
phone customers receiving accurate locations for E9-1-1 service when the
service is implemented in February 2010 because the phones either need to have
a special assisted GPS (A-GPS) chipset or wireless service providers need to
provide a high accuracy network-wide solution.

    -  Accuracy

    Accuracy requirements for E9-1-1 location services are prescribed in the
U.S. by rules mandating wireless providers that use a network-based location
technology (e.g. triangulation) to pinpoint 67 per cent of calls within 100
metres, and 95 per cent of calls within 300 metres. For those that use a
handset-based technology (e.g. GPS), the accuracy requirements are 50 and 150
metres. These accuracy levels must also be tested.
    The CRTC has noted the general levels of location accuracy available with
location equipment on the market (10-300 metres), but it has not prescribed
any precise requirements for location accuracy. The CRTC also has not mandated
accuracy level testing.

    -  Roaming

    U.S. wireless service providers are required to provide location
information for subscribers of other companies that roam on their service.
This provides E9-1-1 capability for out-of-region or foreign visitors who use
their cell phones.
    The recent CRTC policy does not establish a similar requirement. For
example, most out-of-country visitors to the Vancouver Olympics would not be
accurately located if they placed a 9-1-1 call on their cell phones. The issue
of whether roaming subscribers will be able to accept 9-1-1 service in Canada
has been delayed to an unspecified Stage 2 implementation timeframe.

    -  Mid-call location updates

    Public safety officials often require the ability to check a 9-1-1
caller's location in the middle of a call which allows the caller to be found
even if on the move, whether in the trunk of a car or wandering lost in a
forest. While this function is not strictly required in the U.S., it is
broadly available in the United States.
    In Canada, the question of whether mid-call location updating will be
available has been delayed to an unspecified Stage 2 implementation timeframe.

    -  Unsubscribed handsets

    U.S. wireless providers are required to provide location information for
9-1-1 calls made on unsubscribed handsets, or pre-paid services.
    The CRTC policy establishes no such requirement in Canada. This issue has
also been delayed to an unspecified Stage 2 timeframe.

    About IDC Canada

    IDC is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory
services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and
consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives,
and the investment community make fact-based decisions on technology purchases
and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional,
and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in
over 100 countries. For more than 44 years, IDC has provided strategic
insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a
subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events
company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting

For further information:

For further information: or to obtain a copy of the research report,
please contact: Gillian McArdle, Naz Taylor, (416) 342-1813, (416) 342-1827,,

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