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FEMA and the FCC Announce Adoption of Standards for Wireless Carriers to Receive and Deliver Emergency Alerts Via Mobile Devices

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Released: December 7, 2009

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.


Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).




December 7, 2009


: Robert Kenny: (202) 418-2668


: Contact FEMA News Desk
(202) 646-3272




Washington D.C. – As part of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), the
nation’s next generation of emergency alert and warning networks, the Department of Homeland
Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) today announced the adoption of the design specifications for the
development of a gateway interface that will enable wireless carriers to provide its customers
with timely and accurate emergency alerts and warnings via their cell phones and other mobile
The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) is one of many projects within IPAWS intended
to provide emergency mangers and the President of the United States a means to send alerts and
warnings to the public. Specifically, CMAS provides Federal, state, territorial, tribal and local
government officials the ability to send 90 character geographically targeted text messages to the
public regarding emergency alert and warning of imminent threats to life and property, Amber
alerts, and Presidential emergency messages. The CMAS is a combined effort of the federal
government and cellular providers to define a common standard for cellular alerts.
Today’s announcement marks the beginning of the 28-month period, mandated by the FCC in
August 2008, for commercial mobile service providers who have elected to participate in the
design specifications known as CMAS to develop, test and deploy the system and deliver mobile
alerts to the public by 2012.
“Working as a team with our partners in the public and private sectors, the adoption of the
CMAS standard brings us even closer to making the nation’s next-generation of emergency
alerts and warnings – Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) – a reality,” said
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “Our goal is simple, to give one message over more devices
to more people for maximum safety.”
“Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to ensuring that Americans receive critical
emergency alerts and warnings to protect themselves on the go, anywhere, anytime,” said FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski. “I applaud FEMA for its leadership and look forward to working
with both FEMA and the wireless industry to expedite the delivery of this important public
safety service to consumers.”

Wireless carriers who choose to participate in the CMAS will relay authorized text-based alerts
to their subscribers. To ensure that persons with disabilities who subscribe to wireless services
receive these emergency alerts, the FCC adopted rules in 2008 that will require participating
wireless carriers to transmit messages with both vibration cadence and audio attention signals.
The adoption of CMAS culminates the collaborative specification development work between
FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T),
the Alliance of Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), and the Telecommunications
Industry Association (TIA) and begins the next phase of CMAS collaboration with industry in
which FEMA will build the Federal Alert Aggregator/Gateway. This collaboration with industry
is a key component of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Programs’
ability to provide alerts and warnings to the public through as many means as possible, including
commercial mobile services.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we
work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against,
respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

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