As the recent Hurricane-Sandy-related storms have shown, wireless communications systems are vulnerable and frequently cell phone service is knocked out during major weather events. In a previous story here on AWARE last summer, we noted that having an FM radio receiver in all cellular handsets would provide a means to receive emergency information that comes directly from the broadcast station towers and does not depend on the vulnerable cellular networks. In the article, we explored why FM is currently lacking on U.S. wireless devices and highlighted the ongoing campaign of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) advocating for wireless carriers to provide FM chips in handsets. The work of broadcasters has apparently paid off, as Sprint announced this week that it would indeed begin activating FM in many of its smart phones. Even more encouraging is that the press release hints of interactive aspects to this FM tuner application, making it more than just a mere radio receiver.
A lot of us don’t give having an FM radio receiver in our mobile device a second thought, but for those caught up in the recent storms and ensuing power outages having FM available in their cellphones could have been a lifeline. So says the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which has been advocating for FM in mobile devices for years.
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. Continue reading »
Today Sprint publicly announced the launch of a new functionality for its network: Wireless Emergency Alerts, which is the term many wireless carriers are using for the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) / Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN). The announcement comes as FEMA prepares for the nationwide deployment of CMAS in April 2012. Sprint describes the WEA/CMAS capability as follows:
Wireless Emergency Alerts allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to accept and deliver warning messages to wireless networks from the president of the United States, the National Weather Service and state and local emergency operations centers. Sprint customers will be able to effectively and accurately receive warnings and safety information via text alerts to mobile phones that are equipped with the enabling software and based on their geographic location. Continue reading »