Telecommunications

Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’S Act: Why you should care

If you’re part of an organization, there is a very good chance that you have some type of phone system that you use on a daily basis. However, you may not know that there are certain rules/regulations that must be accounted for so you can remain compliant with FCC regulations. Recently the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has announced some drastic changes to how E-911 must function. In today’s blog, we’ll cover what these two laws/acts entail so you can start planning for these new requirements around E-911.

Kari’s Law

If you’re unfamiliar with Kari’s law, this law was named in honor of Kari Hunt, who was attacked and killed by her estranged husband in a motel room in Marshall, Texas in 2013. Ms. Hunt’s 9-year-old daughter tried to call 911 for help four times from the motel room phone, as her mother had taught her to do. Tragically, the call never went through because she did not know that the hotel’s phone system required dialing “9” for an outbound line before dialing 911. This law was signed on February 16, 2018, and officially went into effect on February 16, 2020. The new FCC rules require the implementation of direct 911 dialing and on-site notification capabilities in multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) (which encapsulates both circuit-switched and IP-based/cloud serviced phone systems). This means that when a 911 call is placed on an MLTS, the system must be configured to notify a “central location” (on-site or off-site) where someone is likely to see/hear the notification. This law will apply to manufacturers, sellers, lessors, and nay business that installs manages, or operates an MLTS.

RAY BUAM’S Act

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On March 23, 2018, the President signed the RAY BAUM’S Act into law. This act was named in honor of Ray Baum but is also an acronym that stands for Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services. This act requires that the dispatchable location is conveyed with a 9-1-1 call, regardless of the technological platform used (which includes calls from MLTS). This act defines “dispatchable location” as the street address of the calling party, and additional information such as a room number, floor number, or similar information necessary to adequately identify the location of the calling party. This law doesn’t go into effect until January 6, 2021, for all fixed MLTS (this includes fixed interconnected VoIP, fixed telephony, and fixed Telephone Relay Services (TRS)).  This act has come to light in an effort to emphasize the importance of sharing the precise location information when someone dials 911. This in turn gives first responders valuable information so they can more accurately pinpoint the exact location where the emergency is occurring.

What happens if you don’t act soon?

If you disregard these required changes, you can most certainly expect to receive some harsh penalties. By refusing to support proper 911/E-911 compliance, can lead to fines of up to $10,000 and additional penalties of up to $500 per day of noncompliance.

Summary

In short, if you had to take anything away from the article it would be:

  1. FCC rules require the dialing of 911, with no pre/post digits required to initiate the call (Kari’s Law)
  2. FCC rules require notification to be sent to a “central location” when a 911 call is initiated (Kari’s Law)
  3. FCC rules require a “dispatchable location” be transmitted when a 911 call is initiated (RAY BAUM’S Act)

Up until now, many of the E-911 regulations were only had state-enforced legal frameworks in place. However, as of February 2020, your E-911 solution now carries a national + state legal framework meaning:

  • Kari’s Law will be enforced (already in effect)
  • RAY BAUM’S Act will be enforced (starting January 6, 2021)
  • Any existing state legislation will remain in effect

With all that being said, if you now know that you are not compliant, I would highly encourage you to act ASAP to avoid any potential penalties coming your way. I hope you have found this information helpful and can use this information in planning for RAY BAUM’S Act which is coming up quicker than you may think!

About the Author

Brian is a Technical Consultant for Perficient’s Unified Communications practice focusing primarily on Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams workloads. He has been in this role since December 2017 and has an active presence blogging about all things Teams related. Currently, Brian resides in the suburbs of Chicago and enjoys running, swimming, weight lifting, and playing soccer in his free time.

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