ARCHIVED - Telecom Decision CRTC 2010-224

This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. Archived Decisions, Notices and Orders (DNOs) remain in effect except to the extent they are amended or reversed by the Commission, a court, or the government. The text of archived information has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Changes to DNOs are published as “dashes” to the original DNO number. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats by contacting us.

Ottawa, 21 April 2010

CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee – Improving access to emergency services for people with hearing and speech disabilities

File number: 8665-C12-200807943

1.     In Accessibility of telecommunications and broadcasting services, Broadcasting and Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-430, 21 July 2009, the Commission requested that the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC) Emergency Services Working Group (ESWG) conduct an investigation and evaluation of the benefits, uses, and limitations of access to 9-1-1 services by people with hearing or speech disabilities via various forms of text messaging, including short message service (SMS), Instant Messaging (IM), Real-Time Text (RTT), and Internet Protocol (IP) Relay, and file a report by 21 January 2010.

2.     On 21 January 2010, the CISC ESWG submitted the following consensus report to the Commission for approval:

The consensus report is available on the Commission's website at

3.     In the report, the CISC ESWG concluded that text messaging to 9-1-1 (T9-1-1) via SMS, IM, RTT, and IP Relay technology are not viable solutions at this time for people with hearing or speech disabilities to access 9-1-1 call centres, commonly known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), for the following reasons:

4.     In addition, the CISC ESWG considered that, in the long term, next-generation 9-1-1 standards and technologies that are currently in development could enable users to access PSAPs via multiple methods of texting to 9-1-1. The implementation of these capabilities will depend on the maturation level of IP networking and next-generation 9-1-1 networks and platforms. The CISC ESWG indicated that it would monitor these technologies and make recommendations on them when they meet enhanced 9-1-1 service criteria.

5.     In the short term, the CISC ESWG proposed further investigation of a potential work-around solution referred to as "SMS T9-1-1 via silent wireless voice call." With this solution, when a pre-registered person with a hearing or speech disability initiates contact with a PSAP by dialing9-1-1 on a cellphone, that person's contact and location information would automatically be transmitted in the same way it is for other cellphone users, but the 9-1-1 call would be flagged as coming from a person with a hearing or speech disability. Upon receiving a flagged 9-1-1 call, the 9-1-1 operator would respond by sending an SMS text message to the caller, thus enabling the caller to text back and forth with the operator. However, this solution would not enable people to initiate a 9-1-1 call via text message or to text directly to 9-1-1, and would require PSAPs to change their call handling procedures.

6.     The CISC ESWG proposed to undertake a technical trial of the SMS T9-1-1 via silent wireless voice call solution by conducting various activities identified in the report. The CISC ESWG expects to take 12 to 18 months to implement and operate the trial.

7.     The CISC ESWG recommended this technical trial on the basis that the SMS T9-1-1 via silent wireless voice call solution

8.     The Commission has reviewed and approves the recommendations in the above-noted consensus report. The Commission requests that the CISC ESWG

9.     After the CISC ESWG has made recommendations based on the information generated by the trial and on the related technical specifications, the Commission will determine what further process, if any, is required regarding policy issues. This could include how registration for use of the service would be carried out and proposed methods of funding.

Secretary General

This document is available in alternative format upon request, and may also be examined in PDF format or in HTML at the following Internet site:

Date modified: