Local News

Durham County Wireless Customers Still On Hold For 911 Service

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DURHAM COUNTY, N.C. — Years after an Federal Communications Commission deadline, WRAL found North Carolina wireless carriers moving slowly to install technology that helps 911 centers track down cell phone callers. Wake, Johnston, and Cumberland Counties have the basic tracking system in place now, but Durham wireless callers who pay the same fees are still on hold.

Durham 911 telecommunicators have the technology in place for enhanced wireless 911, but so far no carriers are connected to provide a call back number and general location.

Tonya Pearce, 911 database coordinator, admits the delay started with equipment bids and slow installation. After that, she points to a series of communication breakdowns.

"You expect technology to be there and use it and you can't quite yet," Pearce said.

In one case, Pearce said Verizon Communications has had trouble getting issues worked out with Verizon Wireless.

"They have a lot of changes, companies come and go kind of quickly, so it's a little frustrating that they all seem to have a different system. If we could do the same thing for everybody, it would make it a lot faster and less complicated," Pearce said.

Representatives for Verizon Communications told WRAL that they are in the final phases of paperwork needed to complete equipment hook-ups.

Despite wireless 911 delays across the country, the FCC has yet to issue any kind of penalty. In fact, the agency has given waivers to most carriers so they will have more time to install the next phase of tracking technology -- global positioning systems in phones.


Cullen Browder, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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