FCC Grants WEA Waiver for U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Alerts
On September 23, 2019, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“PSHSB”) released an Order granting Participating Commercial Mobile Service (“CMS”) Providers a limited waiver of Section 10.450(a) (the enhanced geotargeting rules) of the Commission’s Wireless Emergency Alert (“WEA”) rules for earthquake early warnings (“EEWs”) alerts and related Public Safety Messages issued by the U.S. Geological Survey (“USGS”), effective November 30, 2019 (PS Docket No. 15-91).
Pursuant to Section 10.450(a) of the rules, as of November 30, 2019, Participating CMS Providers must deliver WEA Alert Messages that are geographically targeted (specified by a circle or polygon) to an area that matches the specified circle or polygon. A provider will be considered to have matched the target area when it delivers an alert to 100% of the target area with no more than .1 of a mile overshoot. In the event that a Participating CMS Provider’s network infrastructure is technically incapable of matching the target area, the rule provides for delivery of the alert to an area that best approximates the target area. Here, the limited waiver permits Participating CMS Providers to forego enhanced geotargeting for EEWs and related Public Safety Messages issued by the USGS, and instead deliver such messages to an area that “best approximates” the target area. The waiver only applies to EEWs initiated by the USGS with an event code “EQW” and a special handling code “Earthquake,” as well as to any Public Safety Message USGS issues in connection with such an Alert Message.
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