Localities Continue to Press for May 2019 WEA Deadline

More localities are pressing the FCC to adopt a May 2019 deadline for requiring wireless carriers to implement enhanced geo-targeting for wireless emergency alerts (WEAs). A draft order circulated for consideration at the FCC’s Jan. 30 meeting would require implementation by November 2019 (TR Daily, Jan. 9). CTIA has asked for a 36-month implementation period.

Ex parte submissions filed yesterday in PS docket 15-91 expressed support for the May 2019 deadline. One filing was submitted by the District of Columbia, while the other was submitted by four jurisdictions in Oregon: the city of Portland and Multnomah, Clackamas, and Columbia counties.The filings by the District of Columbia and the Oregon jurisdictions were largely identical.

“We strongly feel that the major carriers should not be exempt from exercising the newly proposed rule of delivering ‘an alert message to 100 percent of a target area with no more than 0.1 of a mile overshoot.’ While the major carriers may have a small portion of their network that is technically incapable of matching within 0.1 of a mile, we are confident that they can deliver the message into all remaining areas that are technically capable in compliance with new standards,” the filings said. “While the text of the Chairman’s proposal provides significant details about Commission action, the actual proposed rule changes make up a little over one page of the 49?page document. The proposed rules do not mention or define how the intelligence in the handset will be incorporated into WEA, and how wireless providers must enact the proposed WEA changes to all new handset devices being released in the future, in addition to updating existing device software. The rules fail to require carriers to pass the alert area coordinates to the mobile device.  The rules also suggest that if carriers aren’t technically capable of matching an alert polygon, they simply have to give their best efforts.  This would provide no improvement to WEA.”

The filings also said that “the rules identify no timeline for implementation, in spite of the discussion in the text of the” draft FCC order. “The public safety community has cited multiple reasons why an expedient and clearly defined implementation timeline for the WEA geo-targeting enhancements is necessary, yet the rules offer no timeline. Due to our need for timely improvement to WEA, we must side with public safety and emergency management communities who have presented an achievable timeline of May 2019 for implementation.”

Meanwhile, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International noted in a filing today that it has “recommended additional rule language to clarify the obligations of participating CMS providers to achieve improved geo-targeting and what it means to be ‘technically incapable of matching the specified target area’ and today it provided “specific language to consider for the draft Order’s proposed rules. Further, as the draft Order wisely intends the new rules to apply to existing devices capable of being upgraded to support the matching standard, APCO is suggesting that participating CMS providers be required to submit a report listing which devices are capable of being upgraded. This would be useful for public education and assist public safety officials in developing policies that take into account the geo-targeting improvements.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily