Print 21 comment(s) - last by dark matter.. on Nov 20 at 8:22 PM

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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By NullSubroutine on 11/18/2010 4:52:05 PM , Rating: 3
I have no problem being sent a text message with proper warnings of serious danger, but I will not be supportive if it takes over my phone with BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPP PREPARE FOR A EMERGENCY BROADCAST BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPP

RE: Well
By viewwin on 11/18/2010 5:00:52 PM , Rating: 3
Or charged for it

RE: Well
By darckhart on 11/18/2010 5:54:00 PM , Rating: 2

yea i can do without the 20 cent text thanks.

RE: Well
By inighthawki on 11/18/2010 5:59:35 PM , Rating: 3
Since I can't tell if you forgot the <sarcasm> tag,

I'm going to go ahead and guess that like all text messages from the provider themselves that texts or messages from the emergency system will likely have no charge...

RE: Well
By Souka on 11/18/2010 6:48:36 PM , Rating: 5

But being the modern age, I'd also expect "This alert is brought to you by" followed by a 30 second advertisement... :)

RE: Well
By The Raven on 11/19/2010 2:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
Well there is no more taxpayer money to fund such things so it may be the way to go on this one. Oh right, the feds will just print money to cover the costs. The federal gov't taxing us too much... ha ha that is a silly thought.

RE: Well
By StevoLincolnite on 11/18/2010 8:38:24 PM , Rating: 4
I'm going to go ahead and guess that like all text messages from the provider themselves that texts or messages from the emergency system will likely have no charge...

Even if it did, if it's for emergencies and it could potentially save your life...
I doubt anyone is going to worry about the cost of a single text message during an emergency.

RE: Well
By VahnTitrio on 11/19/2010 10:18:13 AM , Rating: 2
In all likelihood though there would never be a 20 cent message for an actual emergency. Instead everyone will only receive the monthly tests. It was only a few years ago that they started using it for severe weather in my area, but prior to that I'm fairly certain the system was never used for anything. I fail to see these messages being any more effective than civil defense sirens for that purpose.

RE: Well
By dark matter on 11/20/2010 8:22:10 PM , Rating: 2
I know the price of life is cheap these days, but surely it has to be worth more than 20 cents.

RE: Well
By BadAcid on 11/18/2010 5:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
Good god, for real. Some localities do a horrible horrible job of it. In St. Louis, most of the time, you just get a little doppler map and a scrolling text line at the bottom of the TV screen, here in Kansas you get your picture grayed out, some jerk on a loudspeaker and the annoying beeps that basically make my LCD go nuts with snow, and my speakers start blurting maximum saturation. They better not send these out every time there's a few flurries like they do here, too.

RE: Well
By jhb116 on 11/18/2010 6:44:02 PM , Rating: 2
ditto - additionally, I have lived in districts (I can't remember if it was CO or CA) where they regularly, defined as at least a couple of times a week, interrupt for so called emergencies.

I think this is a go idea for imminent danger, no kidding emergencies but this can't be abused like some areas do with the TV interruptions. They also need to consider how they determine which phones it sends the messages to. It would seem appropriate to send to certain cell towers of a stricken area as long as they don't send out network wide for an entire geographic area like the state of Texas.

RE: Well
By delphinus100 on 11/18/2010 8:20:38 PM , Rating: 3
It would seem appropriate to send to certain cell towers of a stricken area...

And assuming the nature of the emergency hasn't deprived the cell towers of either their operating power or data connection...

RE: Well
By Murloc on 11/19/2010 6:58:28 AM , Rating: 3
same can happen to television

By Smilin on 11/18/2010 5:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure there will be some technical hurdles. I'm sure there may be failures (with TV/Radio adding a redundant layer). I'm sure there will be annoyances when you get a modest and partially related warning.

All that said... this is a damn good idea and could really save a LOT of lives.

Another possibility: Take say search engines and the other top 10 portals on the internet and display location based warnings on them if visited. ie, google dispays a national weather service banner at the bottom if it detects my IP is in the affected area.

RE: Good.
By bodar on 11/18/2010 10:17:27 PM , Rating: 3
If Google does that, do you think would they change all the Adwords to canned foods, bottled water, and shotguns? ;)

RE: Good.
By jmvaughn on 11/18/2010 11:13:12 PM , Rating: 2
Would that be evil?

RE: Good.
By cjohnson2136 on 11/19/2010 10:55:23 AM , Rating: 2
no it would be awesome :D

RE: Good.
By Bateluer on 11/19/2010 4:43:58 PM , Rating: 2
Firefox addons can block this for you, if you wish.

So long as you're not in your car
By BearAteMe on 11/19/2010 3:25:58 PM , Rating: 3
I think its funny that the next story up on DT right now is the Transportation Secretary saying they want to disable cell phones in cars.
Basically no emergency notifications for you if you're driving.
Good to know these guys talk to each other and nothing like that would ever happen.

Converter boxes
By The Raven on 11/19/2010 2:45:25 PM , Rating: 2
Wait a second. What was their reasoning for giving out all of those converter boxes again? I thought it was because people HAD to have access to their TV signals so they would be able to get the emergency broadcasts.

Well I could be wrong but wasn't that a total waste of TP money in the middle of a recession. Well its nice to hear that the converter box manufacturers at least made it through the recession.

By Methusela on 11/20/2010 12:19:17 PM , Rating: 2
I may be a little too cynical here, but it sounds like a possible case of the cell companies lobbying the FCC for federal subsidization of critical infrastructure. Since the FCC is widely criticized of being administratively captured, especially by more conservative politicians, by the companies it purports to regulate, this seems mildly plausible.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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