Telecom providers must update 911 networks by end of 2020, CRTC says

Canada's telecommunications regulator says it will require companies to update their networks to be ready to provide so-called next-generation 911 services by the end of 2020.

The CRTC will also decommission existing 911 networks by the middle of 2023 in an effort to encourage municipal, provincial and territorial governments to make the transition.

The regulator says the new services, which will allow people to send text messages to emergency services, will be made available as emergency call centres are able to offer them, though it will be up to local governments to decide whether the centres within their jurisdictions will do so.

The CRTC is also asking Public Safety Canada to help ensure a smooth transition by establishing a national co-ordination body of call centres and emergency responders.

The ability to communicate with emergency call centres via text message, including photo and video, would, for example, allow people to send footage of accident damage or fleeing suspects.

The decision is the result of proceedings launched by the CRTC last year to establish a regulatory framework for next-generation 911 services.