FCC Announces Improved Wireless Emergency Alerts

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has announced the availability of numerous enhancements to wireless emergency alerts that will help Americans receive more geographically precise and informative alerts on their mobile phones during emergencies. Local officials will now be better able to reach affected communities without alerting unaffected areas, which should increase confidence in alerting systems. The specific improvements are as follows: (1) no more than a 1/10 of a mile overshoot on alert delivery; (2) able to accommodate messages up to 360 characters and messages in Spanish; (3) creates a new class of alerts called “Public Safety Messages”; and (4) emergency alert tests no longer require an FCC waiver and only reach consumers who choose to participate. To ensure these improvements are effectuated, emergency managers should check that their alerting software can support these upgrades.

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