Praise for FCC's Proposed Changes to the Wireless Emergency Alerts Systems

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to improve the Wireless Emergency Alerts System (WEA) – a reliable service that continues to notify thousands of Americans about threatening acts. The WEA covers these alerts:

  1. Alerts issued by the President
  2. Alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life
  3. Amber Alerts
  4. Weather Alerts
    a.     Tsunami Warnings
    b.     Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings
    c.      Hurricane, Typhoon, Dust Storm and Extreme Wind Warning

The Rural Broadband Policy Group commends the Commission in its mission to make safety a priority in the United States. In a statement released with the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn stated “Last Friday evening, our hearts collectively skipped a beat as we saw and listened in disbelief the images and commentary of the horrific, violent attacks on one of our country’s oldest allies. Reports of how Parisians used their mobile phones to call for help, access services on social media networks, receive updates on the dangers in specific geographic areas, and to tell family and friends where they can find safe havens are tragically powerful reminders that, when faced with a dire emergency, people increasingly turn first to advanced mobile technologies.”

The following statement can be attributed to Danielle King, Coordinator of the Rural Broadband Policy Group:

“In 2013, eight years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) worked together to create a system that notifies communities in times of imminent threats to their safety--the Wireless Emergency Alerts System (WEA).

“WEA uses cell towers to send alerts to wireless phones within the alert zone. However, if a carrier does not participate in WEA, then the consumer is exempt from receiving this life-saving service. This is especially meaningful to rural residents who experience inclement weather conditions year round. The FCC mandates non-participating carriers to notify subscribers if their cell phones are WEA-capable. An emergency service that continues to help communities and families prepare for trouble may leave some rural residents vulnerable when it matters the most.”

Please find Commissioner Clyburn’s full statement here.