Senators Support Draft WEA Order

Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D., Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) have praised the FCC for circulating for consideration at its Jan. 30 meeting a draft order that would set a November 2019 deadline for carriers to improve geo-targeting of wireless emergency alerts (TR Daily, Jan. 9). “Californians are still recovering from some of the most devastating natural disasters in our state’s history. Part of that recovery must include assessing what can be done to prevent loss of life the next time a devastating series of wildfires, mudslides, or earthquakes, strike,” they said in a joint statement.

“Timely emergency notifications on mobile devices can save lives. Enhanced geo-targeting of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system would allow communities to more effectively alert residents of danger and give them more time to evacuate. We are pleased to see action on these concerns that we raised months ago to the Commission. The phones we carry with us everywhere we go have improved our lives in so many ways, they should also be able to alert us of an impending emergency.”

Courtesy TRDaily



FCC Seeking to Split Difference in WEA Mandate Timeline

A second report and order circulated yesterday for tentative consideration at the FCC’s Jan. 30 meeting indicates that the agency does not fully support the deployment timelines suggested either by the wireless industry or public safety entities for improving the geographic accuracy of wireless emergency alerts (WEAs) (TR Daily, Jan. 9). CTIA had suggested that the FCC give the industry 36 months from the effective date of an order to deploy enhanced geo-targeting, while public safety entities said such an upgrade should be implemented by May 2019.

“We require Participating CMS Providers to comply with this requirement by November 30, 2019,” the draft order in PS dockets 15-91 and 15-94 says. “CSRIC V proposed a timetable of 42 months after the adoption of a Commission Order requiring precise geo-targeting, which would translate into July 2021. The WEA FNPRM proposed a similar compliance deadline. But emergency managers indicate that ‘improvements to geo-targeting are critical to the future success of the WEA system’ because of the problems associated with over-alerting and subscriber opt-out and strongly urge implementation on a faster timetable. AT&T, Verizon, and AC&C agree that earlier compliance is feasible. Verizon and AC&C observe that industry is already in the early stages of developing technical standards to support device-based geo-targeting, and ATIS is expected to complete its analysis of device support for this requirement by June 30, 2018. Verizon and AT&T agree that compliance is feasible in a shorter timeframe than the Commission proposed, given the approach we describe here. We accordingly believe an earlier deadline than originally contemplated is both necessary and feasible.

“CTIA states that 36 months is an achievable timeline for implementation of enhanced geo-targeting, and indicates that legacy and existing devices may be capable of supporting enhanced geo-targeting in less than 36 months. Public safety officials, however, state that ‘a 36-month implementation timeline is simply too long given the current and future threat environment’ and urge the Commission to adopt a May 2019 compliance deadline. We find the 36-month timeframe suggested by Participating CMS Providers to lack the kind of precise and detailed justification necessary to outweigh the urgent need for precise geo-targeting articulated by public safety,” the draft order says. Continue reading

FCC to Consider WEA, CAF-II, Economic Office Items Jan. 30

The FCC is tentatively scheduled to consider seven items at its Jan. 30 meeting, including those upgrading wireless emergency alerts (WEAs), addressing Connect America Fund Phase II issues, and creating a new Office of Economic and Analytics (OEA). The agency also tentatively plans to consider Media Bureau items dealing with eliminating a requirement on the submission of paper copies of contracts and other documents and the deleting obsolete digital TV transition rules. An Enforcement Bureau item, for which no details were provided, was also on the tentative agenda released this afternoon.

A fact sheet on the WEA item in PS docket 15-91 noted that a draft second report and order would “[r]equire participating wireless providers to deliver alerts to an area that matches the target area specified by the alert originator, specifically by delivering the alert to 100 percent of the target area that overlaps with the wireless provider’s network coverage area, with no more than 0.1 mile overshoot. This enhanced geo-targeting requirement would go into effect November 30, 2019.”

It also would “[r]equire participating wireless providers to ‘best approximate’ the target area where their network infrastructure or where the mobile device is technically incapable of matching the specified target area.” In addition, the item would “[r]equire that WEA-capable mobile devices preserve alert messages in a consumer-accessible format and location for at least 24 hours after the alert is received on the device. This requirement would also go into effect November 30, 2019.”

The item also would (1) “[d]efine participation in WEA ‘in whole’ as when wireless providers agree to transmit WEA alert messages in the entirety of their geographic service area, and when all mobile devices that they offer at the point of sale are WEA-capable”; and (2) “[d]efine participation in WEA ‘in part’ as when wireless providers agree to transmit WEA alert messages in some, but not all, of their geographic service area, or when not all mobile devices that they offer at the point of sale are WEA-capable.”

A draft second order on reconsideration would “[a]lign the effective date for supporting Spanish-language alert messages with the deadline for extending the length of alert messages from 90 to 360 characters; the new compliance deadline for supporting Spanish-language alerts would therefore be May 1, 2019.”

In 2016, the FCC adopted an order requiring the additional WEA capabilities while seeking comments on additional improvements, including more precise geo-targeting (TR Daily, Sept. 29, 2016). Continue reading

From FCC Daily Digest, January 8, 2018

CHAIRMAN PAI PROPOSES IMPROVEMENTS TO WIRELESS EMERGENCY ALERTS.   Proposed New Rules Would Improve Geographic Targeting of Alerts.  STMT. News Media Contact: Will Wiquist at (202) 418-0509, email:  PSHSB

FCC to Consider WEA Order at Jan. 30 Meeting

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today circulated a draft order for consideration at the agency’s Jan. 30 meeting to upgrade wireless emergency alert (WEA) geo-targeting capabilities. The item proposes a Nov. 30, 2019, deadline for wireless carriers to be able to geo-target WEAs more precisely, which would provide more time than sought by public safety entities but less time than the wireless industry wants, an agency source told TR Daily.

Also circulated today for the Jan. 30 meeting was a draft order that would establish a new Office of Economics and Analytics at the FCC, which Mr. Pai has said he wanted to create. It would have the following divisions: economic analysis, industry analysis, auctions, and data, the agency source said. Also circulated were two Media Bureau items. One deals with the deletion of a rule from the digital TV transition while the other deals with the filing of contracts. An enforcement item was also circulated, as were a Connect America Fund Phase II auction procedures public notice and order on reconsideration (see separate story).

The draft items circulated for the Jan. 30 meeting are to be publicly released tomorrow. Continue reading

Firm to Buy AT&T 600 MHz Band Licenses

AT&T, Inc., has agreed to sell 16 of the 23 600 megahertz band licenses it won in the FCC’s incentive auction. LB License Co. LLC wants to buy the licenses, which cover markets such as San Francisco, Baltimore-Washington, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, and Seattle. “LB License Co is headed by a management team with extensive wireless operations expertise backed by sophisticated or institutional investors with deep experience in the telecommunications sector,” according to a public interest statement.

“For example, Columbia Capital and Telcom Ventures have more than $4 billion in combined capital under management and have been active investors in the wireless, satellite, and media industries. Columbia Capital and Telcom Ventures were lead investors in MetroPCS Communications, Inc., XM Satellite Radio Holdings, Inc., and other mobile services businesses.” Monish Kundra, a Columbia Capital partner, is listed on the transfer application as vice president of LB Spectrum Holdings LLC, which is LB License Co.’s parent company.

Courtesy TRDaily

Public Safety Groups Seeks WEA Improvements by May 2019

Five public safety and municipal groups urged the FCC today to mandate several wireless emergency alert (WEA) improvements by May 2019.

“As you are likely aware, the emergency management and public safety community have been working with the Federal Communications Commission and wireless industry partners on improving the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system to support the nation’s evolving emergency messaging needs. The requested enhancements include, improved geo-targeting, multimedia alerting, ‘many-to-one’ feedback, and multilingual alerting,” the groups said in a letter to FCC Commissioners submitted in PS docket 15-91. “All of the organizations that have signed on to this letter appreciate the efforts the Commission and the industry have taken thus far but write today, in light of recent emergencies, to underscore the critical need for these improvements to be instituted no later than May of 2019. Many of the requested enhancements have been under discussion for the last several years, some longer, and it is now time for action.”

The letter was signed by Big City Emergency Managers, the National Emergency Management Association, the International Association of Emergency Managers, the National Emergency Number Association, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Regarding device-based geo-targeting, the groups said, “The ability to geo-target WEA is a necessity for public safety to effectively protect its citizens. Phones are capable of precise geo-targeting today and WEA must have access to these capabilities. Without the ability to geo-target our alert originators will continue to use WEA sparingly or not at all. This is a shame. An effective WEA can literally mean the difference between life and death. We encourage you to establish a deadline to implement device-based geo-targeting no later than May of 2019. In conversations with the carriers it is clear that an accuracy of 1/10th of a mile is feasible. Continue reading