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FCC to Require Greater Location Accuracy for Wireless Alerts

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Jan 30, 2018, 12:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

The FCC today adopted new rules that it says will ensure wireless emergency alerts are used more effectively to notify the public about threats. To start, the FCC will require network operators that distribute such alerts to do so in a much more geographically accurate and relevant area. Specifically, the FCC will mandate that providers "deliver alerts to the target area specified by the alert originator with no more than a one-tenth of a mile overshoot." This improved geo-targeting requirement will go into effect on November 30, 2019. Further, the FCC wants emergency messages to be more widely available to the general public. Messages must remain accessible to consumers on their devices for at least 24 hours after the initial receipt, or until consumers choose to delete the messages. This is so consumers can later reference message details after they initially view them. Last, the FCC will require carriers to support Spanish-language messages up to 360 characters in length by May 1, 2019. The changes arrive after a false alarm earlier this month in Hawaii suggested to residents that a nuclear strike was imminent. The FCC is reviewing the processes in place that govern how such messages are selected and sent to the public.

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