Gub'mint... waste money? Come now.
April 18, 2003 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Over $200 million collected for future enhanced-911 service. But the 911 of the future, which was supposed to be in place now, hasn't actually arrived. The problem? The money, collected via a mandatory cell-phone tax, wasn't actually used for setting up an e911 system at all. - Wired.
posted by cinematique (8 comments total)
Tragically, this kind of bait-and-switch happens all too often in US government. Especially pervasive is the tactic of earmarking funds for a specific purpose -- lottery funds going to education say -- with a corresponding reduction in spending from the general fund. While the money is indeed going to its intended recipients, the money they were getting before goes elsewhere.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:00 PM on April 18, 2003

BTW, this is only New York State.
posted by smackfu at 12:15 PM on April 18, 2003

Your local and long distance home service is taxed as well, for the purpose of "getting computers into classrooms". However, its illegal for your phone company to tell you about this tax, and there's no proof that the money used actually went towards anything related at all to education. Growing up in a household where both parents worked for the Baby Bells (and ATT before that), the fact that NY state is misusing telecommunications taxes doesn't faze me at all.
posted by Darke at 1:12 PM on April 18, 2003

How is this any different then the teleco's collecting a 10% tax when they should only be collecting 5%? And then not tell anyone where the extra 5% comes from and where it goes to.
posted by jmauro at 1:29 PM on April 18, 2003

I moved out of an established 911 area to an area with no 911 service and spent about five years paying a surcharge to establish 911 service.

Now that I have 911 'service' I pay a fee for the 'service'. All 911 actually did for me was cause my house to be renumbered causing a realtor to mistakenly attempt to change my locks, A process server to accuse me of being someone else, and related nuisance.

Yes, I am a New Yorker.
posted by DBAPaul at 1:54 PM on April 18, 2003

Does this mean that the tin-foil hat crowd can stop worrying about THEM tracking their every movement via their cell phones?
posted by ilsa at 2:57 PM on April 18, 2003

I work for T-mobile and every bill i've ever seen has the 911 state tax. God only knows what the State future excising tax is for.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:40 AM on April 19, 2003

It varies from state-to-state, but here's the skinny on the 9-1-1 thing.

1) The FCC mandated something called Phase II Wireless, which would allow the 9-1-1 center (called a PSAP - public safety answering point) to be able to locate the wireless 9-1-1 call to within 50 meters.

2) There are exactly 3 counties in the United States who are regularly getting Phase-II data in their systems and able to locate wireless 9-1-1 calls. The first was St. Clair County, IL.

Some counties have Phase-1, which gives the PSAP the location of the nearest cell tower, and which "face" of the antenna the call is hitting. It's accurate to a few miles.

3) Your local telcos/RBOC/ILECs are screaming bloody murder and trying to raise higher 9-1-1 tariffs on both the phone bills (which is approved by the local public utility commission in some cases) and on the circuits they provide into the 9-1-1 centers themselves, to pay for the overhead in getting the Phase-II location data. It is a stone bitch right now to get that data into a PSAP, and it's even worse when the caller is moving. Trust me on this one.

4) The municipalities are fighting the cost increases and it has led to gargantuan pissing contests over the money in most locales.

5) Equipment to process 9-1-1 calls is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. For what amounts to a relatively straightforward database application and a pretty simple ACD system, manufacturers of PSAP equipment charge exhorbitantly for "public safety" technology that is usually ten years behind private sector technolgy that costs a third or fourth as much.

If you live in a city with less than a million people, chances are your local PSAP is not nearly where it needs to be in terms of modernization to handle cell phones.

Call 9-1-1 from a landline. Trust me on this one.

Of course - they're also dealing with state budget shortfalls and exploding Crown Victorias too, so it's likely a low priority item for them.
posted by TeamBilly at 6:45 AM on April 19, 2003

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