Feature Article

August 09, 2012

Some Mobile Service Providers Granted Deadline Waivers for Commercial Mobile Alert System Deadlines

In the near future, you will be able to choose to get any emergency news alerts transmitted directly to your cell phone, thanks to the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), also known as the Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN). The CMAS is an alerting network designed to send out emergency alerts to mobile devices in the event of a crisis.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created and outlined the network structure, operational procedures and technical requirements in 2007 and 2008 in response to the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act passed by Congress in 2006. That piece of legislation allocated $106 million to fund the CMAS, which will send out different types of alerts – those from the President of the United States, the National Weather Service and emergency operations center – to participating wireless providers who will then distribute the alerts to subscribers via text message.

Some of those wireless providers, it would seem, aren't quite prepared to meet the deadlines for the program yet. This week, the FCC issued decisions on several commercial mobile service (CMS) providers’ petitions seeking waivers of the deadline to be able to receive and transmit CMAS alerts to subscribers. On August 3, the FCC posted decisions to the petitions filed by CMS providers who want to participate in the CMAS, but who sought waivers from the April 7, 2012 deadline to have the ability to transmit those alerts to subscribers.

Individual petitions requesting a waiver from the deadline were filed by the Rural Cellular Association; the Rural Telecommunications Group, MetroPCS Wireless Inc., Element Mobile, Panhandle Telecommunications System Inc. and American Messaging Services LLC.A joint petition was filed by Cricket Communications Inc., Flat Wireless LLC dba Clear Talk, Cincinnati Bell Wireless Inc. and nTelos Wireless in which the petitioners claimed there were “a common set of facts and circumstances, including a common time line of events, to support each joint petitioner’s request for a waiver,” the FCC said in a press release.

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau granted the petitions filed by MetroPCS Wireless Inc., and by the joint petitioners Cricket Communications Inc., Cincinnati Bell Wireless Inc., Flat Wireless LLC dba Clear Talk and nTelos Wireless.The bureau denied the petitions filed by the Rural Cellular Association, the Rural Telecommunications Group and the American Messaging Services LLC. Of those, American Messaging’s petition was denied “without prejudice” and it can re-file, the FCC said.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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