Ronnie Freeman with SBC made a presentation Tuesday during lunch at the Woodward Senior Center about the importance of Woodward County needing an enhanced emergency countywide 911 system. The issue comes up for vote in Woodward County on April 4. Also hosting the presentation was Doug Haynes, financial director with the City of Woodward.

“There will be two questions on the ballot and one will be the ability to have countywide 911 systems,” said Freeman. “The charge would be up to 15 percent of your basic phone service.”

He then explained that basic phone service means your service before anything like long distance or call waiting is added to it.

“The basic rate for residential phone service in Woodward County is $11.63. In the city it’s $10.87 . . . this would mean that the maximum you would be charged for the 911 service is $1.63 for residential phone customers per month.

Freeman said that one of the most important reasons the county-wide 911 system is needed is because of wireless phone customers.

“About 50 percent of the calls that come into the 911 centers that I service in Oklahoma come from wireless phones,” he said. “They have no idea who you are, where you’re calling from and in most cases, your call could bounce three, four, five counties away from where you are actually located.

“The wireless phones are like radio communications, they bounce from cell tower to cell tower until they connect somewhere. When they do connect, they connect into a land line network they go through and then they connect you to a 911 center.”

He said county officials just have a few more steps to go through until they can bring this enhanced service to the county residents. The FCC previously mandated that all cell phones be equipped with a chip that could locate the caller through the network tower, he said.

“This chip communicates with the tower to tell them where you are within 125 meters, 97 percent of the time,” he explained. The reason an enhanced countywide system is needed is to be able to track these chips in the wireless phones.

One question from the audience was if this was actually an invasion of your privacy - using the chips to know your whereabouts.

“Only when you dial 911 would it ever track you,” Freeman responded. “From a land line phone or a wireless phone, the only way your location would be tracked is if you dial 911 . . . You would only give up your longitude and latitude from your cell phone if you dial 911.”

Another question was would the system work no matter who you have phone service provided with.

“All phone services work together on this,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you have phone service through and it doesn’t matter which cell phone provider you use either.”

He told attendees that 24 counties in Oklahoma, as of December 2005, had asked for enhanced service in their 911 systems - and almost every county has voted to pass the special elections.

“It’s very important to make sure that all of the communications that you have, you would be able to make a 911 call and the department of public safety has the ability to let them know who you are and where you are calling from,” he said.

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