Vail Gets Waiver for May 2 Wireless Emergency Alert Test
Thursday, May 03, 2018 | Comments

The FCC granted a limited waiver of its wireless emergency alert (WEA) rules to permit participating commercial mobile service (CMS) providers to participate in a test coordinated by the Vail Public Safety Communications Center in Colorado (VPSCC). This end-to-end WEA test was conducted May 2 and was broadcast only to mobile devices within the town of Vail city limits.

A letter from VPSCC offered several reasons for conducting the WEA test now, rather than waiting until the May 1, 2019, effective date of the rules. The proposed test is to “ensure that emergency management officials in Eagle County have a clear understanding of how alerts would perform in our mountainous area.”

The letter further stated that the test is necessary because Eagle County hosts a large number of tourists year-round, and many do not subscribe to the county’s emergency alert system; thus, WEA might be the only effective tool to reach them.

The VPSCC letter also stated that Colorado will be facing drought conditions this summer, and there will be a higher than average chance for large wildfires in the area. The letter explains that, “WEA would be a vital tool in getting the word out to as many citizens and guests as possible in a timely manner.”

The letter commited to providing the FCC with the results of the survey that it will conduct to capture data about location reach, cell carrier, handset operating system and general awareness of the test.

The FCC conditioned the waiver on an appropriate pre-test outreach to notify emergency personnel and the public that the WEA message is in fact a test and other conditions. The full order is here.

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