FCC Bolsters Effectiveness of Wireless Emergency Alerts

WASHINGTON, January 30, 2018—The Federal Communications Commission today adopted rules to improve the geographic targeting of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), a system that delivers critical warnings and information to the public on their wireless phones. The updated rules are intended to promote the wider use and effectiveness of this lifesaving service, especially for state and local authorities to convey critical messages to their communities.

Today’s action requires participating wireless providers to deliver WEA alerts in a more geographically precise manner so that the alerts reach the communities impacted by an emergency without disturbing others. Specifically, the FCC’s rules require participating wireless providers to deliver WEA alerts to the target area specified by the alert originator with no more than a one-tenth of a mile overshoot. This enhanced geo-targeting requirement will go into effect on November 30, 2019.

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Today’s action also requires that alert messages remain available in a consumer-accessible format on wireless devices for 24 hours after receipt, or until the consumer chooses to delete the message, which will enable the public to better review emergency information.

The Commission also harmonized the deadline for participating wireless providers to support Spanish-language messages with the deadline to extend the length of alert messages from 90 to 360 characters; participating wireless providers must support both enhancements by May 1, 2019.

For more information on Wireless Emergency Alerts, visit www.fcc.gov/guides/wireless-emergency-alerts-wea.

Action by the Commission January 30, 2018 by Second Report and Order and Second Order on Reconsideration (FCC 18-4). Chairman Pai, Commissioners Clyburn, O’Rielly, Carr and Rosenworcel approving and issuing separate statements.

PS Docket No. 15-91; PS Docket No. 15-94