AT&T will now use a Device’s GPS Location to Route 911 calls

AT&T states it’s the first carrier to deploy location-based routing for 911 calls across the country, allowing it to transmit wireless emergency calls to the right call center based on a device’s GPS location. 

As reported in a press release, AT&T says the feature should enable the carrier to accurately locate and route 911 calls within 50 meters of where the call was placed.

AT&T previously routed calls based on the location of the cell tower that picked up the call signal, an area that could cover up to a 10-mile radius. Unfortunately, a call center miles away — or even an entire town over — could accept your call, potentially slowing the time it takes for emergency services to attain your precise location.

In theory, location-based routing is supposed to assist this situation by connecting callers with the right call centers for the most immediate response times.

AT&T won’t use the Feature to Track the Location of Mobile Devices

As pointed out by Fierce Wireless, AT&T said it wouldn’t use the feature to track the locations of mobile devices and that it’s only turned on when you place a call to 911. An AT&T spokesperson further explained to the outlet that only the dispatchers at the call center would obtain your location information.

In 2019, a report from Motherboard revealed that mobile carriers were reselling users’ location data that ultimately wound up on the black market, available for bail bond agents and bounty hunters to purchase.

Location-based routing won’t be available nationwide to start. So far, the feature has gone live in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Guam.

AT&T says it will add support for “additional regions” over many weeks and expects nationwide assets “by June.” In 2020, T-Mobile announced it was launching location-based routing; however, it still hasn’t been made available nationwide.

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon to communicate vertical location (z-axis) information to call centers to allow dispatchers to identify the precise location within a multi-story building.

However, after missing a deployment deadline, the agency offers carriers until June 2nd, 2022, to certify their deployment.