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FCC Won't Resolve 911 Dispute — And Neither Side is Budging

Fight over access to wireless 911 routes, and ultimately who picks up the phone first in an emergency, will have to be settled locally between Muskego and Waukesha County as federal agency says its hands are tied.

A dispute between the city of Muskego and Waukesha County over access to wireless emergency routes won't be resolved by the Federal Communications Commission.

In a letter sent to the city and county, the FCC basically said that the matter was one of jurisdiction, and that it would not render a decision in which municipality could handle cellular 911 calls made from within Muskego. The city has argued that the current system, which routes calls made from cell phones to the Waukesha County Communications Center first before routing them to Muskego, wastes time in emergencies.

The that it is better staffed to handle the calls for the area, and giving every city its own access to those calls would create other problems in getting help to residents in emergencies.

The dispute has gone on since fall and after a between the city and county yielded no results, Muskego filed a . Most recently the to advise the county that it is considering further legal action, and if the county did not respond or rejects requests again, litigation would follow.

Richard Tuma, the county's director of emergency preparedness, told Patch "we were not surprised by the letter from the FCC. When we had our meeting in December with the city, and were asked about the letter the city sent to the FCC, we stated that in the past the FCC has taken the position that this type of issue is a local one."

Police Chief Paul Geiszler, who has been an outspoken opponent on the county's stance, said the letter could help the city in garnering access, which is granted by the individual cell carriers. Presently, T-Mobile is the only service that has released its cell routes to Muskego from the county. He hoped the carriers would make the decision in order to avoid further action.

"After the cell carriers forward our letter to their respective legal departments, we are hoping that they will feel compelled to provide the cell service to us, and then there will be no need to litigate the matter," Geiszler said. "The county hasn’t responded to the letter sent by (City Attorney Eric) Larson to Waukesha County Corporation Counsel Thomas Farley. If we get a response from his office indicating they will not cooperate, we may have to initiate litigation."

Tuma indicated that the county would not change its stance, stating "the FCC regulations as well as the state legislation do not address this particular issue, therefore it is a local issue and we stand by our position."

Denise Konkol April 19, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Do you feel our County Supervisors should hold listening sessions on this with residents? Or don't people care one way or the other? Surprising that these stories aren't generating any type of comment, as this does affect the response time should you call 911 in Muskego for an emergency.
Concerned Citizen April 20, 2012 at 01:33 PM
It's so sad that for nearly every story, there are 2 sides, "miles apart", both unwilling to budge. One of these HAS to be better for the citizens, which means ONE of these sides does not have the citizens best interests in mind. Which side that is, I'm not clear.

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