APCO Opposes Requests to Delay WEA Embedded References Mandate

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International said today it opposes industry requests to delay the Nov. 1 deadline for carriers to include embedded URLs and phone numbers in wireless emergency alerts (WEAs). In an ex parte filing in PS docket 15-91 reporting on a meeting at the FCC, APCO said that as it has “previously noted, and as further confirmed during this meeting, the wireless carriers have not presented new facts or circumstances, or otherwise provided evidence that including embedded URLs and phone numbers for WEA messages would be infeasible by the November 1 deadline. Moreover, the carriers have not explained what reasonable efforts they have taken to implement these features in the year since the rules were adopted.”

APCO continued, “The general public and the public safety community have come to depend upon WEA as an official source of life-saving alerts. The popularity and ubiquitous nature of mobile devices and services make WEA essential to managing a variety of emergencies, including major disasters such as the recent hurricanes affecting the United States. Further, the benefits of enhancing WEA with clickable URLs and phone numbers are clear. Finally, APCO would be very concerned if any wireless carrier opted to cease providing its customers with emergency alerts and declined to serve as a partner in this trusted and official public safety alerting system.”

In December 2016 (TR Daily, Dec. 2, 2016), CTIA asked the FCC to reconsider portions of the WEA order it adopted earlier in the year (TR Daily, Sept. 29, 2016). The petition asked the Commission to (1) “[d]efer mandating implementation of embedded references until after feasibility testing and standards efforts are completed;” (2) “[c]larify the definition of ‘clickable’ links;” (3) “[c]larify that support for embedded references, to the extent required, need only be supported by new devices, and not older, legacy devices;” and (4) “[c]larify that, because they are inextricably connected, the compliance date for supporting Spanish-language Alert Messages will be concurrent with the compliance date for increasing the character-count of Message Alerts.”

Last month, the Competitive Carriers Association filed a petition for a waiver or, in the alternative, extension of time to give its members more time to meet compliance deadlines to deploy embedded references and improve geo-location capability for WEAs (TR Daily, Aug. 18). It asked the FCC to extend the deadlines to May 1, 2019, or at least until Nov. 1, 2018.- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily