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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