New FCC rules enable switch from television to cell phones

Communications company Alcatel-Lucent announced this week that they have developed a service that "allows federal, state and local public safety authorities to urgently reach people on the go".

The service is called the Broadcast Message Center, and it's designed to help wireless carriers comply with new federal emergency-alert standards outlined in the Federal Communication Commission's Commercial Mobile Alert System.  The BMC allows service providers to send targeted government agency text alerts to mobile users based on their location and it will work like the warnings that interrupt television broadcasts.

"With more than 70 percent of the world population having access to mobile phones, they are the perfect device in an emergency for notifying a maximum number of people in a minimum amount of time," said Scott Ellison, VP Mobile & Consumer Connected Platforms at IDC. 

Field trials are currently being conducted with mobile phone carriers and the service has already been tested in Florida and California.

"Leveraging cell broadcast technology, Alcatel-Lucent Broadcast Message Center solution bypasses network congestion that typically accompanies emergencies to immediately deliver warnings of dangers when seconds count and the public’s safety is at risk."

Wireless providers will be expected to install two message exchange centers for redundancy. The first will be via text, but eventually the government expects to expand the service to support multimedia messages.

The BMC is scheduled to be fully operational by April 2012.

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