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Tom
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PostWed Mar 13, 2019 12:39 pm 
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Per the FCC:  https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/911-wireless-services

"The FCC's wireless 911 rules apply to all wireless licensees, broadband Personal Communications Service licensees and certain Specialized Mobile Radio licensees. Mobile Satellite Service providers, however, are currently excluded.The FCC’s basic 911 rules require wireless service providers to transmit all 911 calls to a PSAP, regardless of whether the caller subscribes to the provider’s service or not."

I believe the reason why satellite providers are "currently" excluded is a technical limitation when the SIMs are expired.  I'm not sure if SPOT has a similar limitation but if it's trivial for them to connect without an active plan I would argue the regulatory intent is they should relay SOS.
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ChanceShowers
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PostWed Mar 13, 2019 4:27 pm 
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I would argue to the contrary.  My view is that the primary function of the SPOT is to be able to call for emergency assistance in situations where you don't have access to other communications; "I'm OK" messages to family are an added benefit.  Therefore, you have to pay for being able to hit the "oh my god help me" button.

Mobile phones are designed as a routine communications device, whether by voice or text or data.  911 service was created for the landline system, and then extended to mobile phones as they gained in popularity and landlines started falling away and the technology advanced sufficiently.  911 service is mandated for entities that are classified as "common carriers", which I doubt that SPOT is classified as.

I agree that in either case (SPOT or 911) the incremental cost to pass an additional emergency request through the system is minimal.  But while SPOT is licensed to use their particular frequencies, the terms of their licensure would simply not require them to pass an SOS button press for free.
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Cyclopath
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PostWed Mar 13, 2019 9:02 pm 
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I doubt many people would buy the SPOT hardware and then not subscribe to the service in hopes of being able to use the SOS feature without paying for it.  A PLB is the information choice for that type of use, it has a stronger transmitter, be and the battery is good for half a decade meaning you don't have to charge it before each trip.  All that taken together suggests that there wouldn't be a moral hazard.

I knew the law about 911, that's part of why I assumed the same thing must apply to SENDs.  I learned something from this.
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runup
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PostWed Mar 13, 2019 9:49 pm 
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Tom wrote:
I believe the reason why satellite providers are "currently" excluded is a technical limitation when the SIMs are expired

Perhaps, Tom.  But, rhetorically, is it possible that they recognized the distinction between phones which access tax-supported 911 centers via voice/text/data networks which draw their revenue primarily from mass general communications, versus devices limited to accessing a specific privately-funded dispatch center whose main business is to provide specific emergency services to a relatively small group of subscribers?

Is it also possible that they understood the potential long term ramifications of requiring such a business to provide its primary service for free, since that requirement could eventually erode the incentive for existing and prospective customers to pay for that service, thus making that business unsustainable over time?
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Cyclopath
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PostWed Mar 13, 2019 10:26 pm 
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It's possible that JFK is really my father.
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Tom
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PostWed Mar 13, 2019 10:41 pm 
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Some googling reveals the rationale in 1996.

http://www.cs.columbia.edu/sip/draft/911/E911.pdf

They didn't want to impede development of MSS.  While you might argue this was a cost/benefit consideration, if you read the language carefully they wanted to encourage growth.  Why?  To increase the ability to meet public safety needs.  As cyclopath ponited out, moral hazard is unlikely to be that significant an issue if you peel back the layers re. why people buy these devices.

Quote:
Mobile Satellite Service (MSS)

17.   Introduction.  We first seek comment on 911 services in connection with MSS systems.  As noted above, the issue of MSS emergency call procedures has been under consideration in a number of proceedings, and, although the Commission has refrained from requiring MSS to comply with any 911 requirements, the record developed in these proceedings provides the basis for the proposals and detailed questions that follow.  We first propose that all MSS licensees providing real-time, two-way, switched voice service that is interconnected with the public switched network establish national call centers to which all subscriber emergency calls are routed.  Call center personnel would then determine the nature of the emergency and forward the call to an appropriate PSAP.  We also seek to develop further the record on implementation of enhanced 911 for satellite carriers in order to determine whether and when such service can reasonably be implemented.

18.   Legal Authority.  In other sections of this item, we seek comment on the Commission’s general authority to impose 911 and E911 requirements on non-traditional classes of providers.  As demonstrated in the above, the Commission has determined previously that MSS is subject to 911 requirements, but has not imposed such requirements for other policy reasons.  When the Commission adopted the E911 rules in 1996, it observed that “adding specific regulatory requirements to [the Mobile Satellite Service] may impede the development of the service in ways that might reduce its ability to meet public safety needs.”[45]  Still, the Commission has stated that “the public interest is likely to require that all CMRS real time two-way voice communications services provide reasonable and effective access to emergency services, [and] we expect that CMRS voice MSS will eventually provide appropriate access to emergency services, either voluntarily or pursuant to Commission’s rules.”[46]  Although we believe that we do not need to revisit the issue of the Commission’s authority to require satellite carrier compliance with 911 requirements, we invite comment on the matter in light of the general criteria for basic and enhanced 911 compliance proposed above.[47]
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ChanceShowers
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PostThu Mar 14, 2019 2:05 pm 
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If I knew I could spend $50 to buy a used, but fully-functional SPOT on ebay, not pay a subscription fee, and use it in case of an emergency?  That's a no-brainer.

And in fact you can get them for that kind of price, fully-functional.  I did.  And then I bought a subscription so that I could use it.
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Tom
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PostThu Mar 14, 2019 3:49 pm 
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I don't know if it's a no-brainer. Personally I wouldn't waste $50 on a spot even if I could get free SOS service. If you want something that works strictly as a PLB it's worth investing in something that is far more reliable as cyclopath pointed out. If you want 2 way communication the inReach is a far better option. People that invest in spot for SOS are either uninformed or have no brains but I digress.
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runup
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PostFri Mar 15, 2019 9:52 pm 
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Tom wrote:
People that invest in spot for SOS are either uninformed or have no brains...

Ouch!  That’s a broad, negative characterization of a lot of people, including thousands who have benefitted from the SOS service.


It seems like an odd departure from the usual outstanding job you do to facilitate discussion, as exemplified by your previous posts in this thread.
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Tom
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PostFri Mar 15, 2019 11:09 pm 
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OK, I guess it comes across as harsh, it was a play on no-brainer if investing in SPOT with SOS being the primary motivation.  PLBs are relatively cheap when you factor in you're not paying a perpetual fee for monitoring, not to mention a device that is designed to function as an SOS device.  If you invest in a SPOT for non-SOS functionality that's a different story.

The premise seems to be that a significant enough portion of SPOT's customers wold drop their subscription if they could get SOS for free.  This begs the question why these customers would have purchased SPOT to begin with over a PLB?  They're either uninformed or not thinking so clearly...

The other premise is there would be a surge of people buying SPOT just for the free SOS. Even if this happened, so what?  It wouldn't impact SPOT financially in terms of lost revenue because these people wouldn't be part of their paying customer base to begin with.  If they can't afford a PLB they can't afford a $200/year subscription for SPOT.  In the off chance that god forbid someone who could only afford $50 on a poor man's PLB and needed their life saved, SPOT would incur the financial burden to relay their SOS.

Just my two cents.  I don't have any illusions it will ever happen.
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hikermike
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PostWed Mar 27, 2019 12:14 am 
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I had/have...don't use a spot.  It failed half the time... Unfortunately, on hikes it would send the "I'm Starting hiking" in the am but never " I'm back safely "  in the evening  even when it was sent from the same spot I started from.  Nasty when doing multiple day hikes.  Thankfully, my wife never checks my progress or checks her email for my messages as she's emailing my kids all the time.  Thankfully cuz she'd call the Coast Gaurd..Yes she has when I'VE BEEN LATE.  (Sorry about the caps...unintended)  Anyway, I've switched to Inreach as I can subscribe monthly when I need it and Spot is yearly.  Spot was $150/year and Inreach is $20 a month or so.  Also Spot constantly charged me for things I didn't order and duplicated subscriptions.  Then to correct it I had to deal with India with their purposefull misunderstandings.
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Cyclopath
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PostWed Mar 27, 2019 9:37 am 
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ChanceShowers wrote:
If I knew I could spend $50 to buy a used, but fully-functional SPOT on ebay, not pay a subscription fee, and use it in case of an emergency?  That's a no-brainer.

And in fact you can get them for that kind of price, fully-functional.  I did.  And then I bought a subscription so that I could use it.

If they could still get you rescued, I bet there would be fewer used ones for sale.  After you've spent $200 on it, if you don't want to pay the subscription anymore, it has no value currently and all that's left is to sell it.  But if it could still get you rescued, it would have value, and a lot of people would keep it as a backup.

I wouldn't risk the $50 on what might be a brick, personally.

Finally, even if I buy it at full price, give it away after a few years of service, and someone else gets a free rescue, SPOT has still made money on the hardware they triggered a rescue for.
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