On Thursday, November 21, 2019, CTIA filed an ex parte with the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“PSHSB”) requesting – at a minimum – a 14-day extension for service providers to meet the November 30 WEA deadline for enhanced geo-targeting deployment, due to outstanding testing with FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (“IPAWS”) that is necessary to reliably implement the enhanced WEA requirements, among other reasons. CTIA also encourages the Commission to acknowledge the current status of IPAWS WEA implementation, and to take steps to ensure that all stakeholders take care to mitigate any potential risks to the WEA system.

FEMA has indicated that IPAWS testing was ready to begin the week of November 18th, and is intended to conclude by November 29th to meet the November 30th deadline. CTIA has previously mentioned that end-to-end testing required to deploy WEA enhancements typically requires six months. Accordingly, CTIA contends this two-week period leaves inadequate time for appropriate testing and thus encourages the Commission to accommodate an additional 14 days, at a minimum, for FEMA and participating CMS providers to complete testing.

In addition, CTIA points out that FEMA has indicated the upcoming implementation of IPAWS WEA system update will not include all WEA 3.0 features, including the verification that alert message polygons adhere to no more than 10/100 vertices. CTIA explains that until FEMA has addressed this issue, there is the potential that non-conforming WEA messages will be delivered to the CMS Providers’ networks from IPAWS, which in turn may prevent CMS Providers from transmitting these WEA messages. Therefore CTIA requests that the FCC encourage FEMA to educate alert originators and their vendors of this limitation and have a mechanism to inform alert originators when such messages do not adhere to the 10/100 vertices parameter.

On Monday, November 25, 2019, the Commission released a Public Notice announcing that the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has waived on its own motion the November 30, 2019 effective date of certain Wireless Emergency Alerts (“WEA”) enhancements, as listed in the Notice (PS Docket Nos. 15-91, 15-94).

The compliance deadline for Participating CMS Providers to support the enhanced WEA features is extended until December 13, 2019. The Notice explains that since FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (“IPAWS”) only became available on November 15, 2019 for formal testing of the May 1, 2019 requirements and the November 30, 2019 requirements, and the shortest identified and feasible timeframe for testing WEA enhancements is four weeks, this extension will ensure that providers have enough time to test WEA enhancements and avoid implementing network changes during high-traffic periods over the upcoming holidays. The Notice clarifies that until December 13, 2019, Participating CMS Providers must continue to deliver WEA Alert Messages to an area that “best approximates” the target area specified by the alert originator.

On Friday, December 13, 2019, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“Bureau”) released a Public Notice announcing delays in the availability of certain improvements to Wireless Emergency Alerts (“WEA”) (PS Docket No. 15-91, 15-94). FEMA has informed the Bureau that its Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (“IPAWS”) will not be ready to support WEA improvements by today’s December 13, 3019 deadline, as previously expected.

On Thursday, December 19, 2019, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“Bureau”) released a Public Notice announcing that FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (“IPAWS”) is now available to support certain improvements to Wireless Emergency Alerts (“WEA”) (PS Docket Nos. 15-91, 15-94).

The Bureau states that the WEA enhancements, specifically including the State/Local WEA Test category and more precise geotargeting for the delivery of WEA messages, are “now available for use by alert originators and must be supported by Commercial Mobile Service Providers participating in WEA.”

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