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Caution Urged

Carriers Disagree With Public Safety on Need for Alert Reporting Requirements

Wireless carriers warned the FCC proposed reporting requirements in a Further NPRM on wireless emergency alerts would require wholesale changes in alerting technology and asks for information they can’t collect. APCO and the National Weather Service (NWS) asked the agency to impose reporting requirements on industry. Comments were posted Wednesday in docket 15-91. Commissioners approved the FNPRM in April (see 2204190053).

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Some government agencies limit alerts because they don't have confidence in the system, APCO said. “Regular reports on WEA performance will increase transparency and improve public safety agencies’ trust in the system, and help the Commission identify opportunities for improvement,” the group said. It urged the FCC to require “an automatic reporting capability” for WEA-capable handsets. “Reports should include an analysis of aggregate data from WEA messages that were or should have been transmitted during the reporting period -- not only test messages,” APCO said.

Alerting authorities, themselves, have no way to measure the actual breadth of WEA dissemination, and poorly directed alerts can result in alert fatigue and impacts to the overall effectiveness of public alerting through WEA,” NWS said: “Therefore, it would be beneficial if the wireless industry provided information regarding the receipt of alerts.” Reporting requirements should include “estimates of spatial accuracy such as the percent of polygon covered, overshoot, and undershoot for individual alerts as well as for the service as a whole,” the agency said: “Reporting should also include latency such as the difference in time at which an alert is received by the wireless industry and the time at which it is first broadcast.”

Carriers objected. “Proceed cautiously before adopting performance metrics and reporting standards that would require a redesign of the WEA system,” CTIA said. A requirement to automatically track delivery or display of WEA messages is “incompatible with the foundational cell-broadcast technology used to meet the public safety mission of WEA,” the group said. Automatically reporting WEA performance information from mobile devices may also raise “privacy concerns from consumers and should be approached cautiously,” CTIA said.

The FNPRM’s reporting proposal “would require service providers, including CCA members, to report information that they do not have and cannot feasibly collect under WEA’s current architecture,” the Competitive Carriers Association said. “Imposing overly burdensome or technically infeasible requirements would likely undermine, rather than promote, the Commission’s policy goals.” CCA urged the FCC to consult with WEA stakeholders across the board “rather than looking specifically to service providers, in considering how the industry can continue to improve the WEA system.”

T-Mobile suggested the FCC consult with the ATIS Wireless Technologies and Systems Committee and its own Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council “to evaluate any potential modifications to WEA before adopting any rule changes.” T-Mobile also backed a focus on privacy, questioning whether reporting requirements would make consumers less willing to receive alerts. “It is not clear how collecting performance data would contribute to the success of WEA,” said AT&T.

ATIS supported carrier arguments that collecting data isn’t feasible under current WEA architecture. “There is no need for automated reporting and data collection requirements because WEA is already effective and reliable,” the group said. ATIS cited the results of last year’s nationwide test (see 2112300045): The results of the test “confirm the reliability and effectiveness of WEA” since “90% of the respondents received the test message, most within two minutes of transmission.”