Calif. Sens. Press FCC On Wireless Alert Geotargeting

Cite wildfires and reports of WEA issues

In the wake of the devastating and deadly California wildfires, a pair of California Democratic Senators have written the FCC with their concerns that wireless emergency alerts (WEAs) lack potentially lifesaving precise geotargeting, and are urging the FCC to implement that requirement ASAP.

The FCC in 2016 proposed rules, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai voted for as a commissioner, that would require wireless carriers to provide precise geotargeting of WEA warnings, but Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris wrote Pai that they were disappointed the FCC has never voted a final order, and that it provided "a temporary waiver of the existing, imprecise geotargeting requirements for certain carriers."

They ask if the chairman intends to proceed with the rulemaking and if so, will he do it expeditiously, and if not, why not.

They also want to know whether the FCC has gotten feedback from emergency services in Northern California about whether the WEA system is meeting their needs, referring to news stories that suggested it was not, and whether it has sought the same info from hurricane-it areas.

And while some tech vendors have claimed precise geotargeting is not feasible or "excessively burdensome," they don't buy it and want the FCC's take on the feasibility.

They asked for the information by Oct. 24.

The fires have claimed at least 41 lives, with 88 still missing as of Tuesday (Oct. 17) according to ABC News.