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FCC Proposes Updates to Emergency Alerts

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Nov 19, 2015, 12:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC wants to see wireless emergency alerts used more effectively and proposed several changes to improve them. Wireless emergency alerts have been used since 2012 to warn people about severe weather or other safety threats, alert them to missing children, and deliver other information via text messages. In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC suggested the maximum length of messages be increased from 90 characters to 360 characters so more information can be conveyed in a single message. It wants to see relevant phone numbers or URLs added to messages, as well, so citizens can follow up if needed. The FCC proposed to create a new class of alerts for governments to convey public safety advisories, such as boiling water, and it wants local and state governments to be able to test alerts. The proposed rules would mandate that wireless network operators deliver messages to more granular regions. "The proposals are intended to promote the wider use and effectiveness of this lifesaving service, especially for state and local authorities to convey important information to their communities," said the FCC. It hopes the new rules will ensure that more informative messages reach only those for whom the content will be relevant.

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