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Pai: 911 Calls Must Go Through

Spurred by a recent killing that involved a failed 911 call, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has sent letters to the CEOs of the 10 largest hotel chains asking what they have done or are doing to insure that when someone dials 911, they reach emergency personnel.

In announcing the inquiry, Pai cited the story last month of a woman stabbed to death in a hotel room by her estranged husband while her nine-year-old daughter tried in vain to call 911 because she did not know she had to dial 9 first to reach a 911 operator.

"Kari’s daughter behaved heroically under horrific circumstances. But the hotel’s phone system failed her, her mother, and her entire family," said Pai.

"In my first speech as an FCC Commissioner, I said that “when consumers dial 911, they need to reach emergency personnel; it shouldn’t matter whether they are using the public switched telephone network (or PSTN), a VoIP application, or a wireless phone. Neither should it matter whether they are using a phone at a hotel, motel, or office building," he said.

Pai said the technology exists to make that happen and he would push over the coming weeks to make sure it did.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.