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Articles

FCC Announces Timetable for Wireless Emergency Alert System Notifications

March 19, 2012

Articles

FCC Announces Timetable for Wireless Emergency Alert System Notifications

March 19, 2012

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that commercial mobile service (CMS) providers that have elected not to participate in the new Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) must notify potential new and existing subscribers by May 15, 2012. The FCC stated that participating wireless carriers will begin to offer the wireless emergency alert system to their customers beginning on April 7, 2012.

The CMAS is a voluntary system administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that will allow wireless providers to voluntarily receive and transmit emergency alerts to their subscribers. Carriers that elected not to participate in the system, either in whole or in part, were required to notify the FCC of their decision.

Notice must be provided to new subscribers at the “point-of-sale,” which includes stores, kiosks, third-party reseller locations, websites (proprietary or third-party), and any other venue through which a carrier’s devices and services are marketed or sold. There are no specific requirements for displaying the notification at the point-of-sale, but such notice must take into account the needs of persons with disabilities, such as through enhanced visual, tactile, or auditory assistance in conveying the required notification. Wireless carriers are not required to obtain a written or verbal acknowledgement from a potential subscriber that he or she has received the notice at the point-of-sale.

Notice must also be provided to existing subscribers by means of an announcement amending the subscriber’s terms and conditions of service agreement. A wireless carrier may communicate this announcement through any reasonable means at its disposal, including, but not limited to, direct mailing, bill inserts, text messaging, and SMS messaging. Similar to notices provided at the point-of-sale, a wireless carrier is not required to obtain a written or verbal acknowledgement from existing subscribers.

The FCC’s rules set forth specific language that wireless carriers must use for the required notice. If a wireless carrier elects at a later date to participate in the CMAS, it must file a notice with the FCC 30 days prior to offering this service.

A copy of the FCC’s Public Notice is available here.

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