, Muskogee, OK

April 22, 2014

Find funding for E911 services

— To say lives depend upon increased funding for E911 service throughout the state would be an understatement.

E911’s very purpose is to dispatch emergency care — fire, police, medical — to people in need.

Advanced technology is what makes E911 a better system.

Unfortunately, technology is what’s killing funding for the systems.

More and more people are abandoning their landline telephone service for cellular technology or voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

The number of landlines overwhelmed cellphone and Internet phone service use just a few short years ago.

Funding for 911 services depend heavily on fees derived from citizens’ use of landline technology.

Governments charged a higher fee for landline users because they were the bulk of the people using the system.

Now, for example, in Muskogee County, the vast majority of emergency 911 calls come from cellphones.

Fewer landlines means less tax revenue to support, maintain and upgrade E911 services.

The Oklahoma House recently nixed a Senate bill that would have increased fees for cellphone and VoIP users. That increase would have helped offset the loss of revenue from the declining use of landlines.

E911 service will decline without a new funding mechanism.

The service is too important, too critical to the daily lives of Oklahomans for legislators to ignore.

Lawmakers should make it a top priority to find a new funding mechanism for E911.

Legislators should treat the issue as if their lives depended on it.