FCC Reaffirms Schedule for Geotargeting Alerts in WEA System
Thursday, November 02, 2017 | Comments

The FCC reaffirmed its existing schedule for geotargeting alerts under its Wireless Emergency Alerting (WEA) system. The five largest mobile service providers must provide “clickable” embedded references to “best approximate” the target area by Nov. 1, 2017, but the FCC extended the timeline for smaller, regional wireless providers to come into compliance with that requirement.

“These actions ensure that smaller, regional wireless providers remain part of the WEA system while maximizing the deployment of more effective wireless emergency alerts to consumers,” the FCC said.

The FCC granted 18 months of relief to smaller, regional operators — specifically, all participating commercial mobile service (CMS) providers other than the largest five — so that they will have additional time to deploy network upgrades and learn from the deployment experiences of the largest participating CMS providers on how best to ensure embedded references are smoothly integrated into the WEA system.

Last month, U.S Sens. Kamala D. Harris and Dianne Feinstein raised concerns with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai about the limitations of the WEA system.

“Recent news reports have indicated that emergency services in Northern California were not able to transmit lifesaving WEA messages because of significant technical deficiencies in the WEA system,” the senators wrote in a letter. “Specifically, because the WEA system does not enable precise geotargeting — a feature that has been standard in mobile applications for years — emergency services cannot send an evacuation message without reaching a large number of unaffected residents. These emergency services are caught in a bind between notifying individuals in imminent danger and risking mass panic. As a result, these services are compelled to rely on emergency messaging systems with far less reach and far less capacity.”

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