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FCC Issues Decisions in CMAS Deadline Waiver Petitions

Parties sought more time to connect to IPAWS

This story originally appeared in Government Video.

The Federal Communications Commission has issued decisions on commercial mobile service (CMS) providers’ petitions seeking waivers of the deadline to be able to receive and transmit Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) alerts to subscribers.

On Aug. 3, the FCC posted an order on its website — which was adopted the same day — listing its decisions to the petitions filed by CMS providers who want to participate in the CMAS, but who sought waivers from the April 7, 2012 deadline to have the ability to transmit those alerts to subscribers.

Individual petitions requesting a waiver from the deadline were filed by the Rural Cellular Association; the Rural Telecommunications Group, MetroPCS Wireless Inc., Element Mobile, Panhandle Telecommunications System Inc. and American Messaging Services LLC.

A joint petition was filed by Cricket Communications Inc., Flat Wireless LLC dba Clear Talk, Cincinnati Bell Wireless Inc. and nTelos Wireless in which the petitioners claimed there were “a common set of facts and circumstances, including a common timeline of events, to support each joint petitioner’s request for a waiver,” the FCC said

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau granted the petitions filed by MetroPCS Wireless Inc., and by the joint petitioners Cricket Communications Inc., Cincinnati Bell Wireless Inc., Flat Wireless LLC dba Clear Talk and nTelos Wireless.

The bureau denied the petitions filed by the Rural Cellular Association, the Rural Telecommunications Group and the American Messaging Services LLC. Of those, American Messaging’s petition was denied “without prejudice” and it can refile, the FCC said.

All of the petitioners sought a wavier of the April 7 deadline in order to complete contracts required for establishing a connection with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System’s alert aggregator gateway. That includes negotiating a memorandum of agreement and an interconnection security agreement, FCC says.

The memorandum of agreement is between the carrier and FEMA, and establishes the terms governing the management, operation and security of a connection between the carrier and IPAWS for the delivery of CMAS alerts, the FCC said.

The interconnection security agreement is between the carrier and FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. That agreement addresses the security requirements for the virtual private network that acts as the interface between the gateway used by the carrier and the IPAWS’ gateway.

The two agreements have a test phase and a production phase, each of which must be separately negotiated and executed. In addition, FEMA says the test phase documents have a “notional timeline” for completion of about eight weeks, and the production phase has a timeline of about seven weeks.

Petitioners sought a waiver of the April 7 deadline to have “a period of time sufficient to complete the foregoing contractual processes and final CMAs interface testing that FEMA and DHS require for any CMS provider to participate in the CMAS,” FCC says.

Because of the time required to complete FEMA’s and DHS’ contracting and interconnection negotiation processes, the Rural Cellular Association and the Rural Telecommunications Group sought a “blanket waiver” on behalf of their members or the wireless industry in general.