updated 05:10 pm EST, Wed November 17, 2010
Emergency Broadcast System coming to cell phones?
The Emergency Broadcast System that will alert TV viewers of any emergencies may soon arrive on cellphones, Alcatel-Lucent said on Tuesday. The company is developing a Broadcast Message Center that will let government agencies send mass information regarding local, state or national emergencies. These text messages can warn users of anything from road closures to hurricanes and tornadoes.
The Broadcast Message Center will help phone companies meet FCC rules for a Commercial Mobile Alert System. All phones would get such alerts, though users could opt out of receiving the less serious ones such as about weather, traffic accidents or Amber Alerts.
US agencies such as the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency would have access to Alcatel-Lucent's service.
Alcatel-Lucent envisions each cell provider needing to install two message exchange centers to ensure reliability. Initially, the messages will be sent out in text form, but they will eventually support multimedia formats as well.
The Broadcast Message Center has undergone testing in California and Florida, and is expected to roll out under FCC guidelines by April of 2012.