FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Wednesday praised the standards organization Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), for its efforts to improve the geographic accuracy of Wireless Emergency Alerts. Wireless carriers rely on ATIS for standards to comply with the FCC’s enhanced WEA geo-targeting requirement, which specifies that alerts must be delivered to 100 percent of the target area with no more than a one-tenth of a mile overshoot. Where not technically feasible, wireless providers must continue to deliver alerts to their best approximation of the target area.
In September, Chairman Pai asked ATIS to develop best practices to further enhance geo-targeting.
“ATIS’ WEA standards specify a range of permissible values for wireless providers and equipment manufacturers to use as parameters for enhanced WEA geo-targeting, particularly when mobile devices are in motion,” Pai noted in a letter. He said the best practices should consider and address the following:
- The recommended frequency with which wireless providers’ networks retransmit WEAs;
- The recommended number of location checks that WEA-capable mobile devices should perform when determining whether to display a WEA;
- The recommended number of seconds that WEA-capable mobile devices should wait to get a fix on their location during each check; and
- The recommended processes to ensure that WEA-capable mobile devices display WEAs received during active voice or data sessions when the device is located within the targeted geographic area.
Pai urged the group to consider publishing the best practices by the second quarter of 2021.
In its reply, ATIS General Counsel Tom Good said the standards organization was working on the suggestions and is targeting a Q2 2021 completion. On its site, ATIS explains some cell phones are receiving WEA messages “well outside the alert area” while others in the alert area don’t receive them.
“These experiences are not new and have occurred since WEA 1.0 deployment. With the deployment of WEA 3.0, the expectations of [Alert Originators ] are higher than ever for being able to alert in a more exacting manner,” states the standards organization.
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