Why you must validate compliance with the new E911 Laws

With Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’S Act in force, it is critical that all organizations verify their compliance with these laws.

While participating in the 2022 Enterprise Connect annual conference panel on Managing E911 for Compliance and Safety, Martha Buyer, an attorney who was involved with the creation of Kari’s Law, stated, “Enterprises that operate multi-line telephone systems, and have either installed new systems or completed a major upgrade since February of 2018, don’t really have an excuse for non-compliance that would likely hold up in court. There are other areas of state and federal laws that if not specifically requiring compliance, suggest that non-compliance is a bad place to be. Specifically, OSHA regulations require organizations provide a safe workplace. It would not be a tough argument to make in court that anything that could be construed as denial to access of 911 absolutely creates an unsafe workplace.”

How does your organization comply with these new laws? It is in every organization’s best interest to verify full compliance with these laws. Besides the precedent of a large award for the wrongful death of Kari Hunt Dunn, with these laws, there is also the potential of daily fines.  “Law requires reasonable efforts to be compliant.” states Buyer.

Who needs to be compliant? It makes good business sense to update your phone systems to meet the requirements of these laws. Kari’s Law requires that there is no pre-fix needed for outbound calls to 911. Part of the $42 million settlement was awarded from the hotel owner, OM Lodging, LLC as a result of the neglect of proper configuration of the MLTS. For specific information on compliance, refer to this FCC site:  https://www.fcc.gov/mlts-911-requirements.

Also, with every 911 call, notifications MUST be sent to a department or persons onsite responsible for safety to inform them about the incident. When 911 call notifications are received, it is recommended that personnel be sent immediately to the place of the emergency to provide aid until the first responders arrive. Personnel should be sent to the site entrance to meet the emergency responders when they arrive to expedite their ability to find the person in distress.

RAY BAUM’S Act adds requirements that dispatchable location information is sent to the local public safety answering points (PSAP). To simplify, a call to 911 must provide dispatchable location information including addresses 1 & 2 where address 1 is the physical street address, and address 2 provides the internal location like suite/room/floor information to assure the person calling can be found quickly by the first responders. The law requires MLTS systems must have enabled this 911 functionality where available, and it must be implemented and maintained. This law requires full compliance by the MLTS manufacturers, distributors, and users of the MLTS since January 2022.

Remote workers and wireless devices are now included in the 911 laws as of January 2022. This has become extremely important in a post-pandemic “work from anywhere” workplace where the physical location of workers may change daily. According to Managing E911 for Compliance and Safety panelist Mark Fletcher, VP Public Safety Solutions for 911inform, LLC and co-author of Kari’s Law, “240 million 911 calls a year, that’s 85% of all 911 calls, are made from mobile devices.”

Buyer also noted that although there may be a small number of organizations that do not fit under the requirements of these two E911 laws, all organizations are required to “provide a safe workplace” under OSHA regulations.

Verification of compliance requires due diligence. It can seem like an insurmountable project to begin. Following are recommendations for getting started on compliance and how to test 911 calls.

Here are ideas to get you started:

  • Determine what devices or systems for your organization fall under these laws. Use the basic rule if a device can be used to make an outside call, it should be compliant.
  • Develop internal policies to ensure 911 use and regulatory compliance.
  • Establish procedures for setup and maintenance. Test often and routinely like other safety procedures and equipment.
  • Meet with first responders to determine what they require to help someone in need of emergency assistance at your locations.

How to test 911 calls:

Your first step in testing 911 calls is to identify your PSAP for your business locations. Use this link to determine the local PSAP for your locations. Coordinate with local first responders/PSAP when test calls will be made which are not emergencies.

Second, make test calls to determine what information is sent to the PSAP. Call 911 from every location (site, building, etc.) and record data of what the PSAP receives. This includes the telephone number (TN) displayed, the address displayed, the caller name displayed, and PSAP where the call was routed. 

Third, ensure the phone system is configured properly. Verify latest 911 functionality is enabled and configured. Verify the TNs associated with the correct location HUB as provisioned. 

Fourth, work with the supplier and CPE vendor to make any necessary corrections. This may include correcting the Caller ID information sent out, and changing incorrect service address information – Address 1 & 2. 

Finally, test again until compliance is verified.

There is a sample questionnaire available for download to use for making test calls and tracking information.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive testing procedure, only a starting point for crafting a test procedure that best helps your organization meet compliance. Education is key to make employees, contractors, customers, visitors, etc. aware of the process for dialing 911. It’s also important to understand the limitations of the technology. There still needs to be a human element to ensure the proper help is sent to the person in distress.

Organizations should enlist the help of a communications technology consultant to manage projects to verify compliance which includes a first-time verification process and follow up verifications annually or when major changes are made to a MLTS or within your organization. These procedures should become part of the internal safety and disaster plan that is tested and maintained annually.

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Moving Beyond POTS

Our industry has been inundated with news about the demise of POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines. Recently, the FCC issued a new order with the goal of abandoning the rapidly deteriorating copper wiring infrastructure throughout the US. Through this order, the FCC is allowing Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) to stop providing analog POTS services.

Carriers now have the option to stop providing these services while being allowed to increase the price those services. We’ve seen carriers announce “end of life” plans for their services in the next year and carriers raise the rate for a single analog phone line to quadruple the monthly rates as an enticement to move to IP-based communications using their fiber or cellular networks.

From a carrier perspective, there are many reasons to move customers away from the legacy copper services. The carrier equipment to support those services is old – difficult and expensive to maintain. The workforce that supports this equipment is retiring and not being replaced. In addition, it is expensive to put copper in the ground.

Services that you most likely are using POTS for include things like: fax machines, fire alarms, elevators, and security alarms. These services may not be at the top of your technical project list, but they are critically important to your organization. These services may not be forced to be replaced right away, but the cost will rise significantly, and you may not be able to get the services in the future from your provider.

Now is the time to plan. There are solutions that can be deployed to replace those lines – driven by your schedule and requirements.

For a guide to help you through the maze of issues and options – give us a call or reply back to this email.

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Here is why you should review your wireless spend!

Many times, the work from home and work from anywhere approach to maintain business continuity has been a decision made in a crisis mode, not knowing if it would be permanent or a short-term strategy until things got back to normal.

During the pandemic many companies have experienced an increase in wireless telecom expenses. We have seen organization’s wireless costs increase by 30% or more as their employee’s data use skyrocketed.

Here are some tips to potentially reduce your wireless expenses:

                Review your wireless bill to potentially reduce expenses

                Review your plan’s usage behavior to identify high volume users

                Review your plans to make sure devices are on the most efficient plans available

                Leverage a 3rd party consultant to guide the review process

In 2020, Abilita consultants generated costs savings averaging 30% for our clients with wireless expense management being the highest share of this savings. Get control of your wireless costs with Abilita’ s unique A3 Program: Awareness – Analysis – Action.

Click here to download our whitepaper on the subject.

For a 10 minute no obligation conversation, please click here to schedule a meeting at your convenience.

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Top 10 Times for a Communications Technology Review

It’s never a bad time to review your organization’s communications technology expenses, and never a better time to enlist the help of a specialist. That’s because there are certain milestones when not having a good handle on spending and inventory can result in the greatest financial risk.

Here are our top 10 scenarios for a communications technology expense review and inventory update:

  • Before a Move
  • After an acquisition or merger with another company
  • Upon Contract Renewal with Communications Service Providers (before and after)
  • After Closing a Site
  • When there are changes in Regulatory Charges
  • When moving from Premise to Cloud-Based Services
  • When Transforming Network Technology
  • When a New Person is taking over responsibility for Communications Technology Management
  • When changing to a new Data Center Provider
  • When Employees Work from Home

For more details and what you might want to consider: download our Top 10 Times whitepaper. To get started now, contact your Abilita Advisor to get started with a zero-risk review of your technology systems and services.

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The Sun is Setting on Older Phone Services

Are you aware?

  • old phone lines connecting legacy systems, fax machines, elevators, fire/security alarms are going away?
  • carriers may be gouging you for continuing to use the older technology such as PRI?
  • how this will impact your business ?

If you don’t know already, your plain old telephone service (POTS), copper lines and PRI circuits that plug into your phone system, facsimile machines, elevator lines, fire alarms and security systems are in the process of being phased out.

Instead of cutting services off immediately, your telephone provider may be substantially increasing their monthly rates, surcharges and other fees until you transition to other forms of technology. 

This means your telephone invoices may continue to rise, in some cases from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars.

We can help you tackle this: we will first assess the risks and timeline. Then we will identify possible alternative solutions that are more cost effective and provide additional technology benefits.

As the sun sets on this older technology, contact your Abilita Advisor to get started with a zero-risk review of your services to help you avoid costly surprises. 

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You WILL Profit from a Technology Audit

There isn’t any doubt that 2020 will be deemed “the year of the pandemic”. It doesn’t matter what line of business you are engaged in, or what your position in the organization is (was), your technology and telecom picture has changed. And, it may never be quite the same again.

Organization’s technology teams have been overwhelmed with the urgency of the crisis and have had to deploy new collaboration and connectivity solutions without a lot of thought for the long term. 2021 will be the year of preparing for the new reality in telecom and technology which may include:

  • more Work From Home challenges
  • more video, less telephony
  • more flexibility in services and connectivity

Let’s call 2021 the “Year of the Technology Audit”. Look at where you were, where you are, and where and how to move ahead.

For some ideas on how to do this and what you might want to consider, read this article titled “2021 – The Year of the Audit. To get started now, contact us for a zero-risk review of your technology systems and services.

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Enhanced 911 – Are You Ready?

Consider this: an employee at your office has a heart attack after normal working hours with nobody around. He or she dials 911 from a desk phone and the ambulance goes to the wrong location! Worse yet, the emergency responders are at the right location but don’t know where the caller is located in the building!

It is for this reason that new E911 legislation has been introduced: Kari’s Law went into effect February 2020 and the RAY BAUM’s Act begins a phased rollout beginning January 2021. For details, view the E911 page on our website.

We are recommending that all organizations become familiar with these new regulations, develop a checklist, test their compliance and create remediation plans to address those issues.

If your firm needs assistance with this work effort, please contact us for a no obligation review of our practice, services, and expertise.

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Boost your Bottom Line and Productivity

How would a 25% reduction in telecom costs help your bottom line?

Covid-19 has caused many companies and organizations to adjust to a new work environment. 

Many rushed to adapt to decentralized communications and a work-from-home environment for their office and support staff. Meetings have become virtual; contact centers and support are remote; VoIP adoption has increasedrequirednetwork security upgrades were all rushed into place.

At the same time many organizations have put on hold their growth plans and are looking to reduce costs to improve their bottom line, in some cases reducing staff.

Now that things have settled into place, this is a good time to review your communications services and infrastructure. 

  • Do you have the services you need?
  • Do you still need the services you are paying for?
  • Are your contracts and pricing correct for the services in use?

Contact us today for a brief no obligation discussion on how Abilita could improve your bottom line and solve productivity concerns.

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Your Phone Bill Increased, and there isn’t anything you can do about it.

  • Beginning July 1st, US telecommunication costs increased by almost 7%!
  • Universal Service Fund (USF) fees have increased to 26.5%, the highest it has ever been.
  • Abilita can help you navigate this increase and find ways to save other costs on your bill.

One of the largest and probably the most ignored line item on your telecommunications bill is something called the Universal Service Fund (USF). This is a fund established by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The purpose is to support the funding of technology projects of schools, libraries, rural health care, etc. in areas that are determined to be “high cost”. 

The funding of the USF is paid by the providers and carriers, and the calculation for the contribution is done on a quarterly basis. And, of course, this is passed on to the users. Beginning July 1 that charge went up to 26.5% (up from 19.6% the previous quarter) and is the highest it has ever been. In addition, the FCC is considering adding additional services to the contribution base.

Your phone bill is going to increase! For more information on the USF Contribution Fee, read this article on NoJitter.com

Although the USF surcharge rate increased and will continue to be a large line item, there may be ways to lower the base line. Now may be the time to do a complete telecommunications review and audit to determine if there are ways to optimize services to lower costs and to review contracts.

We don’t sell you telecom or technical services or products: we offer truly independent and objective advice. Click here to schedule a no obligation 10-minute discussion to help you determine the right course for your organization or give me a call.

admin@abilita.comYour Phone Bill Increased, and there isn’t anything you can do about it.
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Technology Budget Survival in a New World

  • Up to 30% of workers will continue to use the Work From Home (WFH) model, at least part time, according to some analysts.
  • Many planned IT/Telecom projects have been cancelled – in many cases only mission-critical projects will be addressed.
  • Technology tools like video conferencing and collaboration are at workers fingertips. In the past, these applications were reserved for only very large companies and elaborate conference rooms.

IT staff have performed miracles – organizations were able to send home entire workforces and IT was able to spin up collaboration platforms and support remote workers literally overnight. Projects that might have taken years in the past have been completed in days. But these projects may have been undertaken in a quick and crisis driven manner. Cost considerations were left to be sorted out later.

Abilita has been involved in several telecom and technology industry discussions and panels over the past several weeks. We can help you assess your IT and Communications infrastructure to help determine whether:

– Services that were previously needed are still necessary?
– IT expenses are being duplicated or overbilled?
– Current vendor contracts need to be reviewed or modified?

We don’t sell you telecom or technical services or products: we offer truly independent and objective advice. Click here to schedule a no obligation 10-minute discussion to help you determine the right course for your organization or give me a call.

admin@abilita.comTechnology Budget Survival in a New World
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