FCC Partners With Carriers, Federal, State, Local Agencies to Assess WEA Test

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UPDATE For the first time ever, the FCC is entering into partnerships with 11 federal, state, and local agencies to assess the delivery of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) in areas across the country during a planned nationwide test on August 11. The Commission asked AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to give the agency information on their performance following the test. The FCC said its analysis of survey and industry data will further its effort to ensure that Wireless Emergency Alerts are as timely and reliable as possible.

Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel called Wireless Emergency Alerts, a “powerful tool” for public safety managers to inform and protect the public during disasters. “While the FCC has long required Emergency Alert System participants to report how nationwide broadcast Emergency Alert System tests fared on their television and radio systems, this is the first time we will gather meaningful data about the performance of a nationwide Wireless Emergency Alert test.” The material gathered during the survey, she said, will help the FCC gain additional insights into how it and federal, state and local agencies can work together to continue strengthening the life-saving system. 

The Commission is asking the carriers to answer several questions concerning the test. They include: Did the carrier receive the nationwide test message and transmit it to its subscribers in all geographic areas where AT&T is offering WEA coverage? Did the carrier transmit the alert to subscribers? Describe any complications with alert processing or transmission. The agency seeks this information by August 25.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the FCC, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts beginning at 2:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, August 11. For the Wireless Emergency Alert portion, a test message will be directed only to consumer cell phones where the subscriber has opted-in to receive test messages.  

Partnerships involved with the FCC on these tests include emergency managers and other stakeholders from:

  • FEMA
  • National Weather Service
  • Alabama Emergency Management Agency
  • Harris County, TX Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management
  • City of Los Angeles, CA
  • Emergency Management Department, New York City, NY
  • Emergency Management, Mendocino County, CA Office of Emergency Services
  • Ohio Emergency Management Agency
  • Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management; and Homeland Security
  • City of Philadelphia, PA Office of Emergency Management
  • Utah Department of Public Safety

The partners will participate in the FCC survey to confirm the test message was delivered in a timely manner and help identify any issues. Participants will be located in urban, suburban, and rural settings. The agency intends to publish findings from both the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert tests after an analysis of the data. 

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