ALABAMA (WHNT) – AT&T has rolled out new technology in Alabama that will route cell calls to 911 a bit differently than has traditionally been done.

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The technology, originally announced by the telecommunications company in May, will use GPS technology to locate the caller and route the call to the appropriate answering point, such as a 911 center or local police/fire station.

Since cell phones came online, 911 calls were traditionally routed based on the cell tower’s location; because cell towers serve customers up to 10 miles from the tower, this can cause calls to be routed incorrectly in areas where city, county, or state borders overlap.

In theory, this could mean somebody in extreme northern Madison County calls 911 on their cell phone, unknowingly connecting to a tower across the state line in Lincoln County. If this happens, older technology could potentially route that call to the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Emergency Communication District (911 Center), even though the caller is located just across the state line in Madison County. AT&T said these routing errors can cause delays in emergency response.

This new location-based routing can pinpoint 911 callers within 55 yards of their location, compared to several miles by pinging nearby cell towers.

With the National Emergency Number Association, the national professional organization for emergency communications, saying 80% or more of the estimated 240 million annual calls to 911 come from cell phones, AT&T said the technology fills a significant need.

AT&T said the technology will automatically be enabled for all 911 calls on the AT&T network (including Cricket Wireless) in Alabama, and the technology should be available for all AT&T/Cricket customers nationwide by the end of June.

And if you can’t call 911, three North Alabama counties support texting 911. Limestone, Madison, and Morgan Counties support the service, but phone calls are still the preferred method for getting help.