The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced last week that carriers not fully opted into the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS, also known as Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEA) must notify their customers of this status by May 15, 2012.
According to the FCC’s public notice dated March 16th, wireless carriers that have elected not to participate in CMAS – either in full or in part – must provide ”clear and conspicuous notice” to new and existing subscribers of their non-election or partial election. As the quote below explains, this requirement will include both new and existing subscribers, meaning that the notice must be provided at the point of sale (for new customers) and via an amendment to existing subscriber’s service agreements.
…[A]all CMS [Commercial Mobile Service] providers electing not to participate, in part or in whole, in the CMAS throughout their service areas must provide clear and conspicuous notice to new subscribers of their non-election or partial election at the point of sale. The point of sale includes stores, kiosks, third party reseller locations, web sites, and any other venue through which the CMS provider markets and sells its devices and services.
…CMS providers electing not to transmit CMAS alerts, in part or in whole throughout their service areas, must provide clear and conspicuous notice to existing subscribers of their non-election or partial election by means of an announcement amending the existing subscriber’s service agreement.
According to the FCC’s registry of participating wireless carriers (available here — follow the link for the spreadsheet), nearly 500 wireless carriers could be required to issue such notices to their customers. This includes 462 carriers who have opted-out fully from CMAS (including one withdrawal) and 34 who have opted-in partially. 126 carriers have opted-in fully to CMAS, including the “Big Four” of Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, who combined provide the lion’s share of coverage across the country. All four of these carriers also participated in a test of CMAS in New York City in December 2011.
CMAS, a voluntary program that wireless carriers are not required by law to participate in, will begin its rollout on April 7, 2012. Carriers began informing the FCC of their intent to opt-into CMAS in 2008.