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: Will.Wiquist@fcc.gov  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

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

Customs and Border Protection Updates Border Search Directive

U.S. Customs and Border Protection released an updated directive today governing border searches of electronic devices. This directive, which supersedes the previous directive released in 2009, would allow authorities to conduct “basic” searches of computers, mobile phones, and other electronic devices without “reasonable suspicion” that laws had been violated, although such suspicion or a “national security concern” would be required to conduct “advanced” searches.

“In this digital age, border searches of electronic devices are essential to enforcing the law at the U.S. border and to protecting the American people,” said John Wagner, CBP’s deputy executive assistant commissioner-Office of Field Operations. “CBP is committed to preserving the civil rights and civil liberties of those we encounter, including the small number of travelers whose devices are searched, which is why the updated Directive includes provisions above and beyond prevailing constitutional and legal requirements. CBP’s authority for the border search of electronic devices is and will continue to be exercised judiciously, responsibly, and consistent with the public trust.”

“In FY17, CBP conducted 30,200 border searches, both inbound and outbound, of electronic devices. Approximately 0.007 percent of arriving international travelers processed by CBP officers (more than 397 million) had their electronic devices searched (more than 29,200),” the agency said in a news release. “In FY16, 0.005 percent of arriving international travelers (more than 390 million) had their electronic devices searched (more than 18,400).” Continue reading

Clarification: NG 911 Call Center Bill

Due to a drafting error, the bill introduced by Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D., Calif.), Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.), and Norma Torres (D., Calif.) to support upgrades to 911 call centers (TR Daily, Dec 18) directs the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Implementation Coordination Office (ICO) to consult with the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute for Science and Technology to “provide support to States, localities, vendors, and other entities in addressing cybersecurity issues related to Next Generation 9–1–1 services.” The intention is for the ICO to consult with DHS and the National Institute for Standards and Technology, a spokesperson for Rep. Eshoo explained to TR Daily today.

Courtesy TRDaily

Eshoo, Pallone, Torres Offer Bill to Support 911 Call Center Upgrades

Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D., N.Y.), Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.), and Norma Torres (D., Calif.) have introduced legislation to support upgrades to 911 call centers, including a five-year extension of the NG 911 grant program administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “In addition to any funds already made available for grants under section 158 of  the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 942), there is authorized to be appropriated to carry out such grants such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2018 through 2022,” the proposed Next Generation (NG) 9-1-1 Act says.

The NG 911 Act would direct NTIA’s Implementation Coordination Office (ICO), which, like the grant program, was established by the 2004 ENHANCE 911 Act, to seek comment on and recommend changes in state and local laws to better support NG 911 deployment, as well as recommendations for additional actions the federal government could take to enhance and support NG 911 services.

Among the specific issues the bill would direct ICO to consider in the comment process are “whether there is a need for a national public safety answering points certification or credentialing process with respect to Next Generation 9–1–1 services;” whether federal and state law changes are needed to address NG 911 liability and indemnification protections, data privacy and security, and access for individuals with disabilities. Continue reading