Text-to-911 still in the works in East TN

(WBIR) Despite Thursday's announcement from the Federal Communications Commission and the nation's biggest cell phone carriers that people can text 911 an emergency, East Tennessee is not quite ready for that advancement.

"There's going to be a lot of structure in the background. The infrastructure is going to be big," said Randy Hoht, the 911 director for Grainger County.

The area's largest counties in East Tennessee with 911 services, Knox, Sevier and Blount, told 10News they cannot accept text messages at this time.

Tennessee Emergency Communications Board said the state does not mandate the texting, but Hoht said technology for rural areas, like Grainger County, have an advantage.

"They made money that's available for that infrastructure, that backbone that's going to make it work. So hopefully in the next 60 days, we're going to have a new phone controller installed that'll do that work, that'll accept those calls," Hoht added.

At this point, Hoht said this technology was only tested in Middle Tennessee.

The FCC said while this will soon be available nationwide, if there's a choice, people should still call instead of text 911.


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