Geo-Targeting for WEA Will Take Time, Industry Tells FCC

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The FCC wants telecoms to get going on upgrades for Wireless Emergency Alerts and the wireless industry is asking for more time. The Competitive Carrier Association, for example, is asking the FCC for a deadline extension or a waiver, for members of deadlines related to implementing geo-targeting of WEA alerts. CCA says based on currently available technology and network architecture, it would be “unreasonably burdensome and costly” for many of its members to meet the deadlines for some enhanced WEA requirements.

Telecoms that serve rural areas are still transitioning from 2G to 3G networks, notes CCA. “Competitive carriers often are unable to access the network architecture and equipment required to deploy these features. It also remains unclear for competitive carriers whether and how, embedded references in every WEA alert will affect network capacity,” states CCA. The association asked for a May 1, 2019, deadline in a call with members of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, according to an ex parte notice.

The new WEA requirements are being developed through the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) Wireless Technologies and Systems Committee. The Commission proposed geo-targeting accuracy standard would require 100 percent of the targeted devices within the specified alert area to receive the alert with no more than 0.10-mile overshoot; ATIS doesn’t believe the standard is achievable with current cell site technology. There’s also no way to know a device’s location in all circumstances, says ATIS in a filing. “For instance, the device’s location functionality may be turned off and, even if it is turned on, the location may not be accurate.”

Microsoft too, spoke with PSHSB personnel separately, and told the FCC that iPhones don’t support device-based geo-targeting for WEA messages and doing so “would likely significantly increase” latency for those users and actually delay consumers’ access to safety information and “create privacy” issues. “Apple cautioned against any device-based geo-targeting WEA requirements that could result in significant battery drain in emergency situations, where battery life is particularly important,” the company said in its ex parte filing. Geo-based WEA targeting would still require coordination with carrier networks and could contribute to network congestion, according to the tech developer.

August 22, 2017                 

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