FCC Releases Order Granting Limited Waiver of WEA Rules

On July 20, 2018, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“Bureau”) released an Order (“Order”) (DA 18-752) granting a limited waiver of the Commission’s Wireless Emergency Alert (“WEA”) rules. The Order allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) to conduct a one-time nationwide test of the WEA system in coordination with the Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) on Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 2:18pm EDT, with a backup date of October 3, 2018 at the same time.

FEMA requests this waiver in order to conduct a test that will send a WEA message to mobile devices nationwide. FEMA wishes to conduct this test to determine if systems and networks can deliver a WEA message to all WEA enabled devices and test the effectiveness of the delivery. The Bureau believes that a nationwide test of the WEA’s capability serves a public safety policy goal and it would serve the public interest to grant a one-time waiver in these circumstances. The waiver is conditioned upon the test being conducted as described by FEMA in its request letter, the outreach and coordination plan must be implemented as described by FEMA, and the test must originate at the time and date as planned. The Bureau also requires FEMA to conduct any post-test analysis or reports in accordance with customers expectations of privacy and confidentiality and encourages FEMA and members of the public to provide feedback regarding the test.

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