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RULE §251.16Direct Access to 9-1-1 Service

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this rule is to facilitate the implementation of Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 771A ("Kari's Law") requiring telephone systems that provide outbound dialing capacity to be configured to provide direct access to 9-1-1 service and, in instances where no hardware changes are necessary, to provide notification of a 9-1-1 call to a central location on the site of the residential or business facility from which a 9-1-1 call is made using a telephone system.

(b) Definitions. For the purposes of this rule:

  (1) "9-1-1 service" means a communications service that connects users to a public safety answering point through a 9-1-1 system.

  (2) "Additional location" means an optional location, other than a central location, that receives notification of a 9-1-1 call that should be staffed 24x7 with personnel that can assist emergency first responders in accessing the residential or business facility from which a 9-1-1 call is made and determining the location of the 9-1-1 call, e.g., Campus Police, Security Office.

  (3) "Business service" means a telecommunications or communications service provided a customer where the use is primarily of a business, professional, institutional, or otherwise occupational nature.

  (4) "Business service user" means a user of business service that provides telecommunications or communications service, including 9-1-1 service, to end users through a publicly or privately owned or controlled telephone switch. Business service user includes a "governmental body" as defined in §552.003, Government Code, including an institution of higher education.

  (5) "Central location" means a designated location on the site of a residential or business facility from which a 9-1-1 call is made that receives notification of the 9-1-1 call. A central location is not required to have a person available at the location to receive or respond to the notification.

  (6) "Commission" means the Commission on State Emergency Communications.

  (7) "Internet Protocol enabled service" or "IP" has the meaning assigned by §51.002, Texas Utilities Code.

  (8) "Local exchange access line" or "Equivalent local exchange access line" has the meaning assigned in Commission Rule 255.4 (Title 1, Part 12 Texas Admin. Code, §255.4).

  (9) "Notification" refers to a telephone system feature that can send notice to a central location and optional additional location that a 9-1-1 call has been made. Common notifications include "screen pops" with audible alarms for security desk computers using a client application, text messages for smartphones, and email for administrators. Where feasible, notification should provide the telephone number or extension and location information of the telephone system handset from which the 9-1-1 call is made.

  (10) "Telephone switch" refers to the function of switching inbound and outbound calls in order to allow multiple end-users to share a defined number of local exchange access lines or equivalent local exchange access line.

  (11) "Telephone system" refers to a legacy system, or equivalent system using Internet Protocol enabled service, comprised of common control units, interconnected telephone or handsets, control hardware and software, and adjunct systems that allow for advanced features such as call handling and transferring, conference calling, call metering and accounting, private and shared voice message boxes, direct inward/outward dialing. A telephone system, commonly referred to as a "multi-line telephone system" or MLTS, includes network and premises based systems such as Centrex and VoIP, as well as private branch exchange (PBX), Hybrid, and Key Telephone Systems (as classified by the Federal Communications Commission under Part 68 of Title 47, Code of Federal Regulations) and includes systems used, owned, or leased by governmental agencies and political subdivisions, for-profit businesses, and non-profit entities.

  (12) Any term not expressly defined in this rule, has the meaning assigned in Commission Rule 252.7, Definitions.

(c) A business service user that owns or controls a telephone system that provides outbound dialing capacity or access shall configure the telephone system to allow a person initiating a 9-1-1 call on the system to directly access 9-1-1 service by dialing in order the digits 9, 1, and 1 without an additional code, digit, prefix, postfix, or trunk-access code. All non-compliant telephone handsets that provide outbound dialing capacity or access must have immediately adjacent to, and optionally on, the telephone the instructional sticker required in subsection (d)(7).

(d) A business service user shall be granted a one-year waiver (September 1 - August 31) of the requirements of Kari's Law and this rule upon submission of an affidavit not later than September 1 of each year that provides:

  (1) name (legal and any D/B/A), address, and contact information of the business service user;

  (2) address of all locations within Texas served by a non-complaint telephone system;

  (3) a narrative of efforts demonstrating a good faith attempt to reprogram or replace non-compliant telephone systems;

  (4) a statement that compliance with this rule is unduly and unreasonably cost prohibitive;

  (5) the manufacturer and model number of each non-compliant telephone system and the estimated costs to reprogram or replace each system;

  (6) a projected date for compliance with Kari's Law and this rule; and

  (7) confirmation that the business service user agrees to or has placed an instructional sticker immediately adjacent to, and optionally on, each non-compliant telephone handset instructing the user how to access 9-1-1 service. The instructional sticker must be printed in at least 16-point boldface type, in a contrasting color using a font that is easily readable, and is written in English and Spanish.

(e) A business service user's waiver request affidavit may be submitted electronically to http://texas911.org/karislaw/ or mailed to the appropriate address provided in the website link.

(f) A business service user that provides residential or business facilities and owns or controls a telephone system that provides outbound dialing capacity or access shall configure the telephone system to provide notification when a person within a residential or business facility dials 9-1-1 if the telephone system is able to be configured to provide the notification without an improvement to the system's hardware. The notification requirement is separate from and in addition to the requirement in Texas law that "9-1-1 service" connects a 9-1-1 caller to the public safety answering point designated for the area from which the call is made.

(g) A business service user in compliance with this rule is deemed a "third party or other entity involved in the providing of 9-1-1 service" as that term is used to limit liability in §771.053, Texas Health and Safety Code.

Source Note: The provisions of this §251.16 adopted to be effective March 1, 2016, 41 TexReg 1439

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