Keeping Up With Texting Technologies

In Blog by Daniel Biagé | VP of R&D April 19, 2019

Solacom Texting Brief BLOG-01-1

Just when you’ve got it all figured out, it’s time to start thinking about the next evolutions in texting technologies. Daniel Biagé looks into the not-too-distant future of texting.

Texting is like every other technology — it’s continuously evolving and becoming more sophisticated. That means supporting text-to-911 is only the beginning for public safety answering points (PSAPs). Just as people expect PSAPs to support text-to-911 today, they’ll expect them to support more advanced texting capabilities as they become available. And, before we know it, supporting texting capabilities beyond text-to-911 will become mandatory.

To meet expectations, PSAPs need to start thinking about the future of texting today. This will help ensure they lay the right groundwork to support texting advances as they migrate to NG9-1-1 emergency call handling and management solutions.

Here’s a quick look at two of the texting advances that are closest on the horizon. 

Multimedia Text Messages Will Include Photos and Video Clips

For anyone who uses text messaging regularly, or has been involved with a PSAP since the early days of NG9-1-1, this is hardly a surprise. Most of us have sent or received text messages with photos and videos in them. Even the five-step NG9-1-1 deployment plan the FCC released back in September 2011 talked about the need for PSAPs to support text messages that include photos and video clips. 

The technology that lets people include photos and video clips in text messages is the appropriately named multimedia messaging service (MMS). Along with including photos and videos, it also allows people to send text messages that are longer than 160 characters. 

MMS was developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a collaborative group that helps ensure people around the world all have access to the same telecom technologies on their mobile devices. 

Text Messages Will Be Visible as People Type

Most of us are all too familiar with the delays in text conversations and the effects that can have on conversations. If people don’t wait for one another to respond, text conversations can quickly become disjointed and out-of-sync, creating confusion, frustration, and misunderstandings. 

Real-time texting (RTT) functions much more like a voice call. It even starts with the same kind of “ringing” and “answering” feedback you get in a voice call. But, most importantly the recipient can see what the sender is typing as they type it — even corrections that are inserted along the way. The recipient doesn’t have to wait for the message to be completed and sent before they can read it.  

RTT technology also supports simultaneous voice and text conversations. This makes it a better replacement for the hearing carry over (HCO) and voice carry over (VCO) features available in TTY technology than traditional text messages. 

There’s a Lot PSAPs Can Do With More Advanced Texting

Once you start thinking about these advances in texting technologies, it’s easy to imagine all of the ways PSAPs can use them to accelerate assistance to callers and make more informed decisions. 

We’ve been thinking about what these advances mean for PSAP operations for a while now, and we’ve captured our thoughts in an information brief on the topic. In the brief, we:

  • Provide deeper insight into the two technologies
  • Explore the different ways PSAPs can use advanced texting to enhance their operations
  • Share our insights for making a “smooth move” into the future of texting 

Have a read and see what you think. It’s called The Future of Texting for PSAPs.


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