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Amendments to Part 11 of the Commission’s Rules Regarding the Emergency Alert System

In the Matter of Wireless Emergency Alerts

Amendments to Part 11 of the Commission’s Rules Regarding the Emergency Alert System

PS Docket No. 15-91
PS Docket No. 15-91


Adopted: January 30, 2018
Released: January 31, 2018

1. In this Second Report and Order, we take measures to enhance the effectiveness of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). In particular, we improve the accuracy with which emergency 1 We address issues raised by the WEA Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the extent described herein, and otherwise defer resolution of any remaining issues. See Wireless Emergency Alerts; Amendments to Part 11 of the (continued….) Federal Communications Commission FCC 18-4 2 managers can geographically target the delivery of WEA Alert Messages to areas within their jurisdiction. We ensure that consumers will continue to be able to retrieve and review Alert Message content for 24 hours from receipt. We also define what it means for a Commercial Mobile Service (CMS) Provider to participate in WEA “in whole” versus “in part.” In the Second Order on Reconsideration, we align the deadline for supporting Alert Messages initiated in Spanish with the deadline for extending the length of WEA messages from 90 to 360 characters.

2. The Warning Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act gives the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) authority to adopt “relevant technical standards, protocols, procedures and other technical requirements” governing WEA. The WARN Act also gives the Commission authority to adopt procedures by which CMS Providers disclose their intent to participate in WEA. Pursuant to this authority, the Commission has adopted requirements to prescribe WEA capabilities, WEA testing, and WEA election procedures. Many CMS Providers, including the four nationwide wireless providers, have elected to participate in WEA at least in part. Since it was deployed in April 2012, WEA has been used to issue over 33,000 emergency alerts, including severe weather warnings, evacuate and shelter-in place alerts, and America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alerts.

3. The WEA system is a tool for authorized federal, state and local government entities to geographically target alerts and warnings to the WEA-capable mobile devices of Participating CMS Providers’ subscribers. An alert originator sends a WEA Alert Message using Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-approved alert origination software in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) to the FEMA-operated alert aggregator, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). There, it is authenticated, validated and delivered to FEMA’s Alert Gateway for dissemination to Participating CMS Providers’ Alert Gateways. Currently, Participating CMS Providers’ WEA infrastructure removes Alert Message metadata, including a description of the geographic target area for the Alert Message and the Alert Message’s expiration time, and then transmits the Alert Message content to their subscribers’ WEA-capable devices. While the Commission’s WEA rules are technologically neutral, most Participating CMS Providers use cell broadcast technology to transmit WEA Alert Messages to their subscribers. When the Alert Message is received by a WEAcapable mobile device, it is prominently presented to the subscriber as long as the subscriber has not opted out of receiving Alert Messages of that type.

4. In September 2016, the Commission adopted the WEA R&O to improve Alert Message content and delivery, and to create public safety tools for testing and outreach. It also adopted the WEA FNPRM, seeking comment on, among other proposals, measures to further improve emergency managers’ ability to geographically target (geo-target) Alert Messages; to preserve Alert Messages on mobile devices for consumer review until they expire; and to define the extent of participation in WEA.

READ MORE HERE: Amendments to Part 11 of the Commission’s Rules Regarding the Emergency Alert System

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