Across the country, states are requiring upgrades to the 911 infrastructure to support “next generation 911” or NG911. In the big picture, this is good news as it will provide a better 911 service to the community and we can hopefully get rid of those annoying MF circuits that have been sticking around for so long. The bad news of course, is that every service provider with 911 trunks to a local PSAP (i.e. basically everybody) will at some point need to go through a migration process.
This article focuses specifically on the situation in Michigan, where one of the NG911 providers has an unusual requirement – they need FIPS codes to be signaled over the 911 trunks. We’ve put together a pretty detailed set of instructions for how to make the translations changes required in this specific situation – but whatever state you’re in, you’re likely to need to make some changes to 911 service in the coming years – so feel free to reach out to us if you need help.
The State of Michigan is changing their E911 system to a new NG911 Peninsula Fiber Networks system. NG911 is an IP-based system comprised of managed IP-based networks, functional elements (applications), and databases that replicate traditional E911 features and functions, and provide additional capabilities.
Michigan NG911 requires the phone companies to send a “FIPS” code to the 911 PSAP instead of the normal 911 digits. FIPS codes are 5 digit codes used for geographical area identification such as the US Census and NOAA weather alerts. Now they are also being applied to the telco world to route calls. In the case of Michigan these codes are expanded into 10 digits codes.
Traditionally, each local service provider has been required to have dedicated 911 trunks to each PSAP in which they had subscribers. This created a star configuration from the PSAP to the various service providers and was expensive to maintain. Typically these are MF trunks and can be difficult set up and maintain. MF is certainly very very old technology and virtually no other telco service uses MF trunking in 2018. Meanwhile, SIP trunks can be used for 911 with a much lower cost and a better ability to provide flexibility for future enhancements for emergency services.
Changes to your Metaswitch
For this article, we’ll assume you already have a SIP trunk set up to the NG911 center.
Modifying your Metaswitch translations to use the new FIPS can be either trivially simple or moderately complex depending on several factors such as:
- How many FIPS areas you handle
- Overflow routes
- Subscriber use of LCC4 to identify the PSAP (and whether that is unique to a FIPS code)
- Routing through a tandem switch
One PSAP, One FIPS Code
The absolute simplest case is where all your subscribers are routed to the NG911 center with a single FIPS code. Let’s outline the simple change to your trunk routing to accommodate the NG911 change for this. For this case let’s pretend the FIPS code is 1261179901.
- Copy your existing active config set so that you can make modifications.
- In trunk routing identify the table and the particular routing action where you route to PSAP media channel.
- Change that routing entry to use the new SIP media channel
- In the routing entry, in the Number Action, Called number action, add R1261179901 to the field. This replaces the digits 911 with the FIPS code 1261179901.
- Apply the change, activate the config set.
- In the Trunk Routing and Policy Services object, select this new config set and apply.
- Test with the NG911 service by placing calls. Note that you can create Route Verification Tests (RVTs) to test without placing actual calls.
While there are other options on how to insert the FIPS digits, the routing table entry is the simplest to apply.
Multiple FIPS Codes, Multiple PSAPs
The next case is only slightly more complicated. In this case let’s assume each subscriber has been assigned a LCC4 value that identifies the PSAP, and in that each of these LCC4 values uniquely identifies a FIPS code.
If this is your fortunate situation, all the steps in the previous case apply here, except that you need to modify multiple routing table entries that route to each of the PSAPs.
LCC4 Codes Don’t Align One-for-one With the FIPS Codes
Your life become more complicated if the LCC4 code needs to be mapped into multiple FIPS codes. In this case, a migration to new LCC4 values needs to performed. Rather than giving detailed steps for this process, we’ll give general guidelines on how this can be accomplished.
- Create new LCC4 values. We recommend using the FIPS codes as the LCC4 values.
- Modify translations as in the earlier cases. This can become a bit cumbersome as it may need to support old LCC4 values and routes at the same time as the new FIPS codes and routes are brought online.
- Migrate subscribers to the new LCC4 values.
- Clean up translations from the old LCC values and routes.
Routing Multiple FIPS Codes Down the Same Trunk Group
There are cases where you need to route multiple FIPS values down the same trunk group, in fact this case can be quite common. This can be done in several ways, such as setting an attribute value back in Number Validation, or making multiple routing entries that match on LCC4. If you are running V9.3 or later, instead of making multiple routing entries you can set the routing entry Called party action to R<LCC4> which replaces the 911 digits with the FIPS digits from the LCC 4 entry.
Hopefully you’ve found this How-To article useful. If you have a simple network, or if you’re pretty experienced with translations, we’ve hopefully given you enough information to be able to implement these changes yourself. However, if you’d rather get some expert help to make sure everything goes smoothly, we would be happy to help you plan and implement a migration plan. Just drop us a line and we’ll put together a quick quote for you.
- List of Counties and FIPS codes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_counties_in_Michigan
- Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) Rules 484.901-484.906 (referred to in this guide as the Rules), regarding the provision of 911 service over Multi-Line Telephone Systems: https://www.michigan.gov/msp
- US Census FIPS code list: https://www.census.gov/geo/reference/codes/cou.html
- A discussion of E911 and NG911 and a migration from ATT and Frontier 911 to Peninsula Fiber Network (PFN) as IP-based: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/SNC_2017_Annual_Report_to_the_Legislature_590590_7.pdf See page 93 for summary information. Selected quotes from this document:
Next Generation 911: In 2016, the SNC reported several independent local projects being developed throughout the state to create regions for IP-based NG911 systems. By June 1, 2017, 30 counties have deployed the IP-based 911 network provided by Peninsula Fiber Network (PFN) with four more counties under agreement with PFN to deploy IP-911 in the next 6-12 months. There are also 27 additional counties under contract with PFN for IP-based 911 deployment; however, the deployment dates for those counties have not yet been reported to the SNC (See Appendix E).
In 2016, ten Michigan Counties contracted with an IP-based network provider to replace their analog 911 network with an IP-based 911 network.
Michigan’s NG911 Status: At present, there are 30 counties contracting with the IP-based 911 provider Peninsula Fiber Network (PFN). There are 32 more counties under contract to migrate away from the current 911 system providers (AT&T and Frontier Communications) to PFN in the future. Other Michigan counties are in various planning stages to enter into agreements to move from the current legacy 911 network providers to an IPbased 911 provider.
PFN, the current provider of IP-911 services to Michigan PSAPs, has received approval under MPSC Docket U14000 to submit invoices to the state wireless 911 fund created under MCL 484.1408 (4)(b) for its delivery of wireless 911calls, which it estimates as approximately 85% of its call volume.
Michigan currently has three 911 Service Providers which may change as NG911 is deployed.
- AT&T – providing service in the Lower Peninsula only.
- Frontier Communications – providing service in the Lower Peninsula only
- Peninsula Fiber Network, LLC (PFN) – providing service in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
AT&T is the 911 Service Provider for 145 Primary, 5 Secondary, and 23 Back-up (combination of fully featured and voice only) PSAPs. AT&T also provides trunk routing to 13 Frontier-hosted Primary PSAPs.
Frontier Communications is the 911 Service Provider for 22 Primary PSAPs, and 4 back-up PSAPs. Frontier Communications also provides trunk routing to 16 AT&T-hosted Primary PSAPs, 2 AT&T-hosted Secondary PSAPs, and 1 AT&T-hosted Back-up PSAP.
Peninsula Fiber Network is the 911 Service Provider for 21 Primary PSAPs and 2 back-up PSAPs. PFN has established interoperability trunk routing to four of the seven legacy selective routers for PSAP transfers between 911 providers.
AT&T uses five Lucent 5ESS 911 tandem switches in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula located in Ann Arbor, Bay City, Cadillac, Grand Rapids, and Rochester.
Frontier Communications uses a Lucent 5ESS 911 tandem switch in Muskegon, a Nortel DMS100 911 tandem switch in Alma, a CML ECS1000 tandem switch in Bellaire, and a CML ECS1000 tandem switch in Adrian.
Peninsula Fiber Network uses four INdigital Emergency Services Routing Proxies (ESRP) located in Baraga, Munising, Southfield and Grand Rapids. Unlike the more traditional selective routers, this routing mechanism is in line with NG911 standards and capable of NG911 features and functions.