Fed's New Wireless Alert PLAN Doesn't Impress NAB
May 10, 2011 at 2:46 PM (PT)
The federal government has teamed up with wireless carriers to unveil the PERSONAL LOCALIZED ALERTING NETWORK, or PLAN, a free emergency alert system for wireless customers that will notify people of potentially hazardous situations on their mobile devices, reports INFORMATION WEEK. In a prepared statement, the NAB was less than impressed.
"One of the many lessons that were reinforced on 9/11 is the importance of getting clear and accurate information to the public -- that's why we've made improving our emergency public communications a top priority," NYC Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG said at a press event at the site of the WORLD TRADE CENTER. "As part of this effort, we're harnessing tech in innovative new ways, which is something I found to be effective in both business and government for improving service delivery."
"We shouldn't make you fit our traditional systems [of emergency alert]," FEMA Administrator CRAIG FUGATE said. "Most of us have a cell phone that, in a situation where an emergency is taking place, may be the best way to get ahold of you. We need to adapt to what the public is using."
The majority of mobile devices currently don't have the software to support PLAN. But the major U.S. wireless carriers -- VERIZON, AT&T, SPRINT and T-MOBILE -- will begin introducing devices to support PLAN by the end of this year, they said. The FCC will unveil a list of devices that support PLAN in the coming months.
NAB: Radio Has A Better PLAN
Offering a back-handed compliment was NAB EVP DENNIS WHARTON, who issued the following statement:
"We're pleased that cellphone carriers plan to live up to their promise to CONGRESS five years ago to implement an emergency alert messaging system. However, when a cellular network goes down, customers will still be unable to access these 90-character warnings. As was evidenced in ALABAMA and other parts of THE SOUTH just two weeks ago, there is no communications system that matches the life-saving immediacy of a local broadcast signal.