Call waiting: FCC puts 911 cellphone tracker on hold

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is delaying a rule that would help emergency responders more easily locate people who call 911 from their cellphones, the agency said Monday.

The FCC is considering new rules that would require wireless companies such as Verizon and AT&T to provide 911 operators with detailed information about the location of people calling from their cellphones within a home or building.

But the agency said Monday that it is extending the comment period through July 14 to give industry groups, such as CTIA The Wireless Association, more time to consider the proposed location accuracy rule.

In years past, people would call 911 from landline phones, which were easier to trace to a home or office building. But these days, the emergency response system is receiving more calls from people using cellphones.

Emergency responders are often able to track outdoor cellphone calls, such as someone who calls from the highway to report an accident. 

"But if you call 911 from a wireless phone indoors, you should cross your fingers and hope and pray, because no location accuracy standards apply," FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said at a hearing in February.

"This is an unacceptable gap in our policies," she added.