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Non-Service Initialized Phones and 9-1-1. Michigan 2009 Fall Forum on Next Generation 9-1-1 and Other Emerging Technologies November 3, 2009. Agenda. Introduction What is an NSI phone? The Challenge of NSI phones. TCS Fast Facts. Established in 1987 Annapolis HQ, Seattle, Tampa, London

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Non-Service Initialized Phones and 9-1-1

Michigan 2009 Fall Forum on Next Generation 9-1-1 and Other Emerging Technologies

November 3, 2009

  • Introduction
  • What is an NSI phone?
  • The Challenge of NSI phones
tcs fast facts
TCS Fast Facts

Established in 1987

  • Annapolis HQ, Seattle, Tampa, London
  • Data Centers in WA, AZ, MD
  • NOCs in Seattle and Annapolis

Strategic Offers

  • Wireless Location & Messaging Solutions
  • Satellite Services and Deployable Systems
  • Homeland Security
  • Professional Services

Industry Relations

  • Founding Member: SMS Forum, PAM Forum, IN Forum
tcs e9 1 1 solutions
TCS E9-1-1 Solutions
  • Meets wireless E9-1-1 Phase I and Phase II FCC requirements
  • Provides standards-based VoIP i2 E9-1-1 service (Owns the original i2 patent)
  • Displays caller location to police, fire and emergency personnel (life-saving information)
  • Supports 24/7 monitoring and operations
  • Operates 2 fully redundant data centers
  • Serves over 100 million subscribers
  • Processes over 125,000 calls/day
  • Has completed over 100,000,000 E9-1-1 calls to date
  • Operates the only TL9000 certified NOC in the 911 industry
tcs facilities noc data center
TCS Facilities/NOC/Data Center

Seattle Network Operations Center

Backup NOC &

Data Center

Phoenix, AZ

Seattle Data Center

what is an nsi phone
What is an NSI Phone?
  • Every cell phone is unique and must be positively identified via an electronic “handshake” with the wireless switch before service is activated.
  • An NSI phone is one that has not completed the handshake, or has failed the handshake.
    • Discarded (failed)
    • Newly purchased (failed)
    • Power –up (not complete)
    • Service lost/restored (not complete)
why are nsi phones capable of 9 1 1
Why are NSI Phones Capable of 9-1-1?
  • Congressional pressure (Eshoo, D-Ca)
    • FCC Mandate
  • Similar to “warm dial tone” for landline
  • For 9-1-1 calls, carriers skip the handshake
  • The road to hell…..
how do nsi phones work
How do NSI Phones Work?
  • Call routing based on cell sector (same as normal wireless call)
  • PSAP receives ESRK, but no CBN
  • The CBN is typically 911 + 7 digits of Electronic Serial Number
  • Location info is provided (assuming capability of phone and PSAP)
    • Accuracy not adequate to pinpoint user (same as normal Phase 2)
nsi phones are perfect harrassment tools
NSI Phones Are Perfect Harrassment Tools
  • No phone number=no CBN, in exact location, not traceable
  • Many children find amusement by playing with their NSI phones
  • Older users are malicious

No good deed goes unpunished

  • Dispatcher in Chicago, victimized by one too many prank calls, chastised child for playing with the phone. The call was legitimate, however, with tragic results and lawsuits.
  • Numerous anecdotal reports of false reports of serious crimes causing responders to kick in the doors of innocent, sleeping, unsuspecting victims
  • Intentional misdirection of police away from a crime in progress.
  • Tennessee
    • 2% of NSI calls are legit
    • Oct-Dec ‘06: 54 different callers dialed 9-1-1 from an NSI phone more than 10 times (max=140)
    • Of these 54 people, 8 were children
more statistics
More Statistics
  • Florida
    • 12-county survey for one month
    • 4% of all NSI calls were legit
  • Michigan
    • 2-month survey
    • .05% of 1000 NSI calls were legit (5 calls)
  • Washington
    • Snohomish County-6 week survey
    • 2% of 553 NSI calls were legit
what is being done about nsi phones
What is Being Done About NSI Phones?
  • FCC has amended the NSI mandate to allow carriers to block harassment calls
  • Carriers are reluctant to block calls due to liability concerns and cost considerations
    • Who has authority to identify a harasser?
    • No existing technology to block specific NSI calls.
what is being done about nsi phones1
What is Being Done About NSI Phones?
  • Petition to FCC
    • NENA, APCO, NASNA, several states
    • Petition called for FCC Notice of Inquiry
  • FCC Notice of Inquiry (Nov 3, 2003)
    • 70+ Respondants with various recommendations:
      • Block all NSI Phones; terminate NSI requirement
      • Block specific NSI Phones using various technologies
    • NENA submitted reply response
nena response to fcc notice of inquiry
NENA Response to FCC Notice of Inquiry
  • Opposed termination of NSI requirement and supported blocking of individual calls
  • Called for Advisory Working Group for negotiated rule making
  • Identified issues to be resolved
    • What technology to be used to block calls?
    • How to define a harassment call; what triggers blocking?
    • Liability
    • How long should blocking persist on any one phone?
    • Funding/Cost Recovery
  • Terminate all 9-1-1 service for NSI phones (if the phones don’t work for regular calls, why should there be an expectation for 9-1-1?)


  • Block Harassment Calls from specific phones
technology for blocking individual nsi calls
Technology for Blocking Individual NSI Calls
  • Block at the PSAP
    • Recommended by carriers
    • Assuages liability concerns
    • Places burden for blocking on the entity that wants the calls blocked
    • Does hardware/software exist to block NSI calls?
    • Can calls be routed to recording?
technology for blocking individual nsi calls1
Technology for Blocking Individual NSI Calls
  • Block at the MSC/MPC
    • Development work required
    • How to communicate block order?
    • Automated timer on blocks
    • Calls can be routed to recording
    • Possible call processing delays for all 911 calls
potential issues if all nsi wireless handsets are blocked
Potential issues if all NSI wireless handsets are blocked
  •  The carrier processing the call may not be able to distinguish a handset that has no active account with any carrier from a handset subscribed to a carrier with whom the carrier processing the call does not have an automatic roaming agreement.
  • A carrier may block a 911 call due to billing errors or disputes or a simple case of a check lost in the mail.
  • Immediately and for several seconds after power on, MSC to MSC handoff, recovery from loss of service in a tunnel etc, system "reboots", and other normal network events a handset will appear to be non-initialized and be blocked from making 911 calls.
potential issues if we block individual wireless handsets
Potential Issues if we block individual wireless handsets
  • Each suspect handset will have to be blocked on every carrier with a compatible air interface or the handset will simply roam to another compatible network.
  • Bad actors will simply get another NSI handset at a yard sale or thrift store. There is a virtually unlimited supply of such handsets.
  • Bad actors may donate the blocked handset to a thrift store which could prevent a decent citizen from making a 911 call to request help for someone else who really needs it.
  • Call processing can be delayed or complicated as the telephone’s electronic serial number on every 911 call will have to be compared to a list of blocked serial numbers.
  • Because it is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to uniquely identify NSI handsets even using the ESN of the handset, the wrong handset may be blocked when attempting to block a harassing caller or other inappropriate 911 calls.
thank you
Thank you

Dick Dickinson

Sr. Director, Public Safety

TeleCommunication Systems, Inc


[email protected]