FCC: Thousands Of Hotels Don’t Have Phones With Direct Access To 9-1-1

A few weeks ago, Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai decided to start asking hotels if their phones offered direct access to 9-1-1, or if guests would have to dial “9” first to get an outgoing line or are routed through the front desk first. The results are in, and Pai is not pleased.

Pai was prompted to send letters to major hotel chains across the country after a petition with more than 440,000 signatures demanded that all hotels offer direct access to emergency services when guests dial 9-1-1. The petition was in response to the murder of a woman at a Texas motel, when her daughter tried to get help but couldn’t reach 9-1-1 quickly, reports the Associated Press.

The results of a national survey done by the American hotel & Lodging Association — in coordination with Pai’s office — are in, and it’s a bit scary: Only 45% of franchised hotels and motels and 32% of independent hotels have direct 9-1-1 dialing.

To put that in perspective, Pai says that the “vast majority” of around 53,000 properties in the U.S. are operated by independent owners and franchisees, even those using a brand name.

“These statistics are alarming. They show that the telephone systems at tens of thousands of lodging properties across this country could fail Americans when it counts,” Pai said in a statement released by his office. “My message to the hospitality industry has been straightforward: This is not acceptable.”

Pai isn’t stopping with this survey either, saying he’s started to send out more surveys, this time to the vendors that provide multi-line telephone systems in hotels and workplaces to see if they could easily configure their products to allow easy access to 9-1-1.

FCC: Thousands of hotels don’t offer direct 911 [Associated Press]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.