The letter points out that the Warning Alert and Response Network Act of 2006 pushes the wireless industry to develop a mobile device alert system--something FM radio tuners in mobile devices could help achieve. The letter states that globally, more than 700 million mobile devices have these chips installed, though very few of these are within the U.S.
Broadcasters such as Clear Channel Radio, Commonwealth Broadcasting Corp., and Entercom Communications Corp support the idea, presumably since the FM tuner chip provides another "distribution channel" for their media products.
The approach is not without its opponents, however. According to a post on www.TheHill.com, CTIA (the international association for the wireless industry) has thrown its support behind a text-messaging-based scheme. The industry believes requiring a mobile device to constantly monitor FM airwaves for alerts would greatly diminish battery life--an unacceptable outcome. They say the technology options have already been evaluated by an FCC advisory group, and text alerting was declared the winner.
It is difficult to know whether or not FM-based alert delivery will catch on. As with other notification methods, the approach offers both benefits and challenges. What is clear is the growing national interest and sense of urgency surrounding alerts and warnings, highlighted by House members' involvement this week. We believe discussions such as these, while sometimes controversial, are ultimately positive steps toward a more informed and safer America.
All the best,
FYI on VENDORS
Last week at the IAEM conference, I met with two vendors utilizing FM frequencies for alerting--Ft. Lauderdale, FL-based Global Security Systems (AlertFM) and Melbourne, FL-based viaRadio. Both have portable and fixed devices for citizens or for mounting in buildings to generate audible and visual alerts. (A third vendor, Lewisville, TX-based American Messaging (RavenAlert) also offers portable and fixed devices for in-building notifications, but utilizes a commercial pager network). We would love to hear from other vendors in this space as well.
*Thanks to Congressman Phil Roe's Office (R-TN) for providing a copy of the Representative's letter to DHS and the FCC.
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