Tribune-Courier General Manager
Marshall County E-911 last week learned they would be receiving $25 thousand dollars from litigation initiated through the state’s Commercial Radio Services Board (CMRS).
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that TracFone Wireless Inc. improperly withheld payment of 911 service fees to the CMRS Board.
The company had disputed the application of the state 911 fee on prepaid cellphone service.
In total, the Commonwealth has recovered more than $4 million in unremitted state required 911 cellphone fees.
“That was a bit of great news for us that a settlement has been reached and we are able to recoup some of these funds,” said Jason Luebker, Director of Marshall County E-911.
Luebker said Marshall County’s E-911 service, like others across the state, has suffered from shrinking funds brought on by the decrease in landlines and accompanying fees.
In total, $2.9 million will be distributed to 911 call centers in Kentucky.
The total represents 911 fees on TracFone’s prepaid cell phones in Kentucky from July 2006 to October 2013.
The recovered funds will be divided according to a statutory formula used to distribute funds received by the CMRS Board from a state 911 fee of 70 cents per month on cell phones.
Cellphone service providers collect the fees and remit the amounts to the CMRS Board.
There are currently 118 certified PSAPs in the state that have the capacity to answer wireless 911 calls. Applying the distribution formula will result in PSAPs receiving more than $2.9 million.
The balance of the funds is divided by formula into the CMRS grant fund and a Cost Recovery fund for service providers.
Leubker also said the Marshall County E-911 is in the process of upgrading the service’s phone controller with the Next Generation (NG911) phone system with funding from a CMRS grant received last fall.
The $105,000 grant will cover most of the cost of the upgrade.
Leubker said the system will eventually allow for the receipt of not only phone calls to 911, but also text messages, videos and other multi-media messages.
He said the process to install the equipment and have the phone carrier make necessary upgrades for the switch could be more than a year away.
The Marshall County E-911 call center responds to around 25 thousand calls annually.