Deadline for Carrier WEA Improvements Now in Effect

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Several deadlines for carriers participating in Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) became effective yesterday, May 1. Carriers must now support improvements such as longer alert messages (from 90 to 360 characters), for 4G LTE and future networks and a new class of alerts, called “Public Safety Messages” to convey recommended action for saving lives or property.

Carriers must now also include Spanish-language messages.

 Devices engaged in active voice or data sessions on 4G LTE networks must receive and prominently present WEA messages as soon as they are available. Smaller, regional carriers must now be able to support “clickable” embedded references (such as URLs and phone numbers) in WEA messages.

One important aspect of WEA did not yet go into effect. The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) infrastructure through which all alerts are authenticated, validated, and delivered to participating carriers. FEMA IPAWS recently told the FCC it won’t be able to support end-to-end state and local WEA tests until June 10.

In the interim, alert originators that want to conduct such WEA tests must still seek a waiver of the FCC’s rules.

May 2, 2019

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