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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 26, 1999


Today I am pleased to sign into law the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999. By making it easier to use wireless phones to report emergencies, this bill could save thousands of lives every year.

Nearly 100,000 times each day, someone uses a wireless phone to make an emergency call. People with wireless phones can speed the delivery of public safety services by providing rapid reports of car crashes, incidents of aggressive or drunk driving, serious crimes, and natural disasters. Getting rapid care to someone who is suffering from a heart attack or is involved a car crash can mean the difference between life and death.

The legislation I am signing today will improve emergency wireless communications in several ways. First, it will make 9-1-1 the universal emergency telephone number for wireless and "wireline" telephones across the United States. Currently, there are 20 different emergency wireless numbers in different states. Second, it will encourage statewide coordination of the efforts of public safety and law enforcement officials to protect our citizens and save lives. Finally, it will increase private sector investment in emergency wireless services by providing wireless companies with the same level of liability protection that "wireline" telecommunications companies have.

I want to thank members of Congress, the wireless industry, public safety officials, and medical professionals who worked together to pass this important legislation.