FCC Proposes Wireless Emergency Alert Improvements

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking intended to strengthen the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system. Since its launch in 2012, WEA has informed Americans about severe weather, missing children, and other emergencies via text-like alerts to their wireless phones. The NPRM includes proposals to:

  • Increase the maximum length of WEA messages (from 90 to 360 characters) in order to
    convey more information;
  • Enable alerts to contain embedded phone numbers and URLs to improve message quality
    and accessibility;
  • Create a new class of WEA alerts (“Emergency Government Information”) as a means of
    sending action-oriented public safety advisories (such as “boil water” messages or
    information on shelter locations during weather emergencies) to communities;
  • Require participating wireless providers to deliver the alerts to more granular geographic
    areas; and
  • Make it easier for state and local authorities to test WEA service and train personnel.

Comments are due 30 days after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, and reply comments are due 60 days after that. Federal Register publication has not yet occurred.

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