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FCC approves emergency alert network

Fri Apr 18, 2008 - 3:31 PM EDT - By Dan Nimtz

Receiving cell phone alerts for certain emergencies has been adopted by the FCC. They have created a framework for a national system which will provide alerts to cell phone users.

The system is called CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alert System) and is voluntary for the various wireless providers. Basically, the system will send text message blasts to subscribers in the event of national disasters such as hurricanes, terrorist attacks, child abductions or Amber alerts.

The current system is designed to send text messages, but future plans include the ability to provide audio and video information.

Individual users will be able to opt-out if desired.

So far Verizon, Sprint and AT&T have stated they would participate. T-Mobile has not yet formally agreed, but rumor has it they will shortly. Wireless providers will have 10 months to comply with the various CMAS rules once a federal agency is appointed to gather and generate the messages - so look for this interesting new alert system in the coming months.

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