Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC Fights Bid to Charge Cell Phone 911 Calls

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC Fights Bid to Charge Cell Phone 911 Calls

Article excerpt

Oklahoma City is fighting a proposed tariff on 911 emergency calls placed from cellular phones.

Southwestern Bell Telephone has filed a proposed new tariff that would charge the city 23 cents for each 911 call placed from a cellular phone.

This tariff would be in addition to monthly payments the city already makes to Southwestern Bell for 911 phone lines and maintenance of a database used to match phone numbers with where the call originated. The city currently pays Southwestern Bell fixed monthly fees for 911 service on a per-1,000-records basis.

A resolution expressing opposition to the tariff approved by the city council Tuesday states that "the prospect of being charged on a per-call basis makes the proposed tariff untenable in terms of its impact on city public safety budget planning and management."

"Duplicate charges could occur," Communications Manager Lucien Jones told council members, stating that call transfers could sometimes cause a call to hit the system more than once, resulting in charges of 46 cents or even 69 cents for one call.

That could amount to a lot of money, considering that out of the 643,000 calls the Oklahoma City Police Department receives each year from its 911 Public Safety Answering Point, about 40 percent are made from a cellular phone.

"Given as much as we know, and as much as we don't know, this could cost the city somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000 per year," Jones said.

Furthermore, the city would have no way of estimating such costs for budgeting purposes, since anything from ice storms to fires to auto accidents can cause dramatic surges in the number of 911 calls made during any given period of time, Jones said.

The 911 Association of Central Oklahoma Governments has filed a letter of protest with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission stating the proposed charges are "wholly unfair to the local governments who are providing increasing levels of emergency service in times of decreasing financial resources," and the City of Tulsa has also filed a letter of protest, according to City Manager James Couch's report to the council. The Indian Nations Council of Governments is preparing similar action on behalf of their member agencies. …

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