Priority Service (WPS) FAQ Search our WPS Knowledge Base
What is WPS?
WPS is a method of improving connection capabilities for a limited
number of authorized national security and emergency preparedness
(NS/EP) cell phone users. In the event of congestion in the wireless
network, an emergency call using WPS will wait in queue for the
next available channel. WPS calls do not preempt calls in progress
or deny the general public’s use of the radio spectrum.
Who is eligible to have
WPS is available to key NS/EP personnel with leadership responsibilities
at the Federal, State, local, and tribal levels of government, and
in critical private industries (e.g., finance, telecommunications,
energy, transportation, etc.). These users can range from senior
members of the Presidential administration, to emergency managers
and fire and police chiefs at the local level, to critical technicians
in wireline and wireless carriers, banking, nuclear facilities,
and other vital national infrastructures. For additional information,
are currently providing WPS?
WPS is currently being provided on GSM (Global System for Mobile
Communications) and iDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) by
AT&T, Edge Wireless, SouthernLINC, Sprint/Nextel (iDEN) and
T-Mobile. WPS is also being provided on CDMA (Code Division Multiple
Access) by Alltel, C Spire, Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless.
Details are continually updated on the Carriers section of the WPS
What are the
costs for WPS?
WPS features are an add-on cost to a basic cell phone subscription.
Each carrier may charge a one time WPS activation cost of no more than $10 and a monthly WPS service feature cost of no more than $4.50. Users invoke WPS by dialing 272,
followed by the destination phone number. An airtime rate of up
to 75 cents per minute is charged for the service. WPS charges are
payable directly to the cellular provider as a component of the
basic service plan. If the cellular provider charges for WPS calls,
WPS call minutes are not deducted from the minute allowances of
the user’s basic subscription. If the cellular provider does
not charge a usage fee for WPS calls (i.e., Alltel), the provider
may charge WPS usage minutes against your applicable commercial
plan. Check with your service provider for details. Carrier
information will be updated as available on the WPS website.
How are the
Agencies will receive their WPS billing as a feature charge on their
cellular service invoices, and they can determine how they administer
the service. Subscribers may create one account with one billing
address for multiple phones, or they may create more than one account,
each going to its own “bill to” point of contact (POC).
Invoices will be sent as directed by the agency POC.
How much is
the equipment and the basic service?
Cellular telephone services are on the General Services Administration
(GSA) schedule. Service and equipment packages are described on
the following GSM carrier websites: AT&T,
be able to use WPS while roaming?
Yes, as long as roaming occurs on a network that supports WPS.
be roaming charges? If so, will there be separate billing for roaming
Whether or not there are roaming charges depends on the basic service
plan purchased by each agency. Roaming charges, if any, are normally
incorporated into the monthly service bill.
Is there an
analog service fallback?
No. The Global System for Mobile (GSM) technology is digital only.
Does TDMA technology
support WPS? (or, Will my “old” cell phone work with
WPS is not available on the TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access)
technology-based portion of AT&T’s wireless network. WPS
cannot be provisioned for potential users that use TDMA only or
multi-mode phones that can operate on TDMA networks. Users should
check with their cellular carrier if they are not sure which technology
is used for their service .
Will WPS work
on pre-paid cellular phones?
No. WPS cannot be provisioned on pre-paid cellular phones.
on my phone says "Emergency Service Only". What does this
" Emergency Service Only" means that your phone has accessed
another GSM carrier that does not have a roaming agreement with
your carrier at your current location. This can happen when your
regular carrier's signal is disturbed or weak and your handset "captures"
a stronger signal from the other network. Another reason that you
might see this message is if there is a temporary network fault
which keeps your handset from properly registering with your home
carrier when you power it on. Finally, if the display stays on for
a long time, it may mean that your service has been suspended for
some reason and you will need to contact your carrier's customer
care organization. While the message is displayed, you cannot make
regular or WPS calls, but you may make 911 calls or calls to customer
In what markets
will WPS be available and when?
For the latest information on WPS carriers and markets, see Carriers
on the WPS website.
How do users
apply for WPS?
If your organization already participates in WPS, contact your WPS
POC. If you need assistance in identifying your POC, contact NCS
by e-mail at email@example.com or by
phone at 866-NCS-CALL (627-2255), choose Option 2; or in the metro
Washington, DC area dial 703-760-CALL. If your organization does
not have a WPS POC, NCS will assist in establishing one. Organization
POCs will screen WPS applicants based on FCC
criteria, and will then complete an online application. The
NCS will review the application and inform the agency POC of the
action on the application. The NCS will process the service request
to the carrier to add the WPS feature. For more information on applying,
see First Time Requestor.
What is the
process for approved users to obtain service?
Once approved for WPS, organization POCs will procure equipment
and establish basic service, if they have not already done so. If
not previously provided, agency POCs will send the NCS the account
and phone number information. The NCS will then issue an order to
the carrier to add the WPS feature to the phone.
be a preemption feature in the WPS system based on the NS/EP level?
Since WPS uses the public network, preemption of existing phone
calls will not occur. However, if a cell is congested and a queue
of WPS users has formed, users will be served in WPS priority order.
Even though a queue of WPS users has formed on the public network,
radio channels will still be made available to the general public.
I change carriers, does my WPS follow me?
Whether transferring your existing number or obtaining a new number,
you must have your organizational WPS POC submit this change request
online. The new carrier cannot accept a request from the user directly
to add WPS to the user’s new account. If WPS is available
in your service area from your service provider, request WPS from
your new provider via the online change request form. Your new service
with the new provider will then be provisioned with WPS.
I use 911 with WPS?
No, you will get no benefit by dialing 272
911, and will lose the location information which would have been
provided by 911.
my call go through when I dialed 272
plus my destination number?
Even though this is rare, it might happen for a variety of reasons.
All users are encouraged to make WPS test calls from numerous locations
in order to help troubleshoot the network. This includes testing
WPS with the GETS card. If for some reason you encounter problems
while using 272,
call 800-818-GETS (4387) for assistance or to open a trouble ticket.
I contact for more information?
Additional information may be obtained by contacting WPS Operations
and Administration: Telephone - 866-NCS-CALL (627-2255),
choose Option 2; or in the metro Washington, DC area dial 703-760-CALL.
Web Site: http://wps.ncs.gov;
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