WEA Alert Improvements Coming Soon

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Carriers have more time to implement geo-targeting and other improvements for Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). The Federal Emergency Management Agency, administers the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) infrastructure through which all alerts are authenticated, validated, and delivered to carriers. It previously told the FCC it would not be ready to support the enhancements without more time for testing. That lab and field testing began November 15. 

The agency extended the compliance deadline for carriers to implement the alert improvements until December 13. The extra time will help carriers avoid making the network changes during high-traffic times like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

The new geo-targeting requirement, adopted last January, requires carriers to support the precise delivery of WEA alerts to 100 percent of the target area specified by an alert originator, with no more than a one-tenth of a mile overshoot. This applies to new mobile devices offered for sale and existing devices that can be upgraded. 

Aside from geo-targeting, other changes coming to WEA include longer alert messages (from 90 to 360 characters) for 4G LTE and future networks; a new class of alert message called “Public Safety Messages” to convey recommended actions for saving lives or property) and Spanish-language alerts. Also, a new alert category called “State/Local WEA Tests” are coming to promote alert originator proficiency and public awareness. And last, carriers must display the alert on the mobile device as soon as it’s received.     

November 27, 2019

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