Washington and New York City - May 16, 2011 - Mayor Michael Bloomberg, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, top executives from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon and others convened at the World Trade Center site to announce PLAN, the Personal Localized Alerting Network. PLAN is a free service that will allow customers with an enabled mobile device to receive geographically targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. This service will be available in New York City by the end of 2011, at least two calendar quarters before the rest of the nation.
PLAN ensures emergency alerts will not get stalled by user congestion, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services. Authorized government officials can send messages, which participating wireless providers then push using their cell towers to enabled mobile devices in a targeted geographic area.
When PLAN is operational, customers in an area affected by an emergency who have a PLAN-capable mobile device will receive an alert of ninety characters or less. Consumers will receive three types of alerts from PLAN: (1) alerts issued by the President; (2) alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life; and (3) Amber Alerts. Participating carriers may allow subscribers to block all but Presidential alerts.
In 2006, Congress passed the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act, requiring carriers that choose to participate to activate PLAN technology by a deadline determined by the FCC, which is April 2012. Participants that will offer PLAN at least two calendar quarters ahead of schedule in New York City are AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Ninety percent of New York subscribers who have a PLAN-capable mobile device in these cities will be able to receive PLAN alerts by the end of 2011.
For more information on PLAN via a Q&A, visit the Federal Communications Commission website or follow @FCC on Twitter.