Frequently asked questions about Wireless Priority Service (WPS).
What is WPS?
WPS is a priority telecommunications service that improves the connection capabilities for authorized public safety and 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 be given priority in the call queue for the next available channel. WPS calls do not preempt calls in progress or deny the general public’s use of the cellular network.
Who is eligible to have WPS?
WPS is available to personnel with NS/EP leadership responsibilities at the federal, state, local, tribal and territorial levels of government, and in critical private industries (for example, 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, see WPS Eligibility.
What companies are currently providing WPS?
The following cellular carriers provide WPS:
- C Spire
- U.S. Cellular
- Verizon Wireless
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. 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. Check with your service provider for details.
How is WPS billed?
Applicable WPS charges are billed on the existing cellular service provider invoice and are payable directly to the cellular service provider.
How much is the equipment and the basic service?
For Federal users, cellular telephone services are on the General Services Administration (GSA) schedule.
Will users be able to use WPS while roaming?
Yes, as long as roaming occurs on a network that supports WPS.
Will there be roaming charges? If so, will there be separate billing for roaming charges?
Roaming charges depend on the basic service plan purchased by each organization. Roaming charges, if any, are normally incorporated into the monthly service bill.
Is there an analog service fallback?
Will WPS work on pre-paid cellular phones?
No. WPS cannot be provisioned on pre-paid cellular phones.
The display on my phone says "Emergency Service Only". What does this mean?
"Emergency Service Only" means that your phone has accessed another 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 phone "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 phone 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 service center. While the message is displayed, you cannot make normal or WPS calls, but you may make 911 calls or calls to customer care (611).
Will there 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.
If I change carriers, does my WPS follow me?
Whether transferring your existing cell phone number or obtaining a new cell phone number, you must have your organizational POC submit an online transfer request. Your new service with the new provider will then be provisioned with WPS. The new carrier cannot accept a request from the user directly to add WPS to the user’s new account.
Should I use 911 with WPS?
No, you will receive no benefit by dialing *272 911. Additionally, the call will lose the location information which would have been provided to the 911 call center, or Public Safety Answering Point.
Why didn't my call go through when I dialed *272 plus my destination number?
This is generally a rare occurrence, and might happen for a variety of reasons. Extreme network congestion or network damage resulting from emergencies could be contributing factors to unsuccessful WPS call attempts. 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 you encounter problems while using *272, call 800-818-GETS (4387) for assistance or to open a trouble ticket.
How do I answer an incoming WPS call?
Answering an incoming WPS (or GETS) call to a cell phone during times of network congestion is the same as answering any other incoming call; simply answer when the phone rings. There are no special indications that an incoming call is a WPS or GETS call.
For additional information on WPS, search the WPS Knowledge Base.