FCC's Text Message Alert System: Smart, But Too Slow

The FCC has approved an alert system that will operate via mobile text messages. This will give the U.S. government the ability to mass-message the nation’s 255 million wireless subcribers in the event of an emergency.

For example, the government could send a message warning people about a terrorist attack or natural disaster, or “imminent threats” like hurricanes or tornadoes. Participation from wireless carriers will be voluntary, and individuals can opt out of the program. Subscribers won’t be charged to receive alerts.

This is a smart plan that could save lives; there’s no reason not to implement something like this. What’s absurd: It “could be” in place by 2010, the WSJ reports.

Are you kidding? Wireless operators already have the technology to mass-message their subscribers, and any carrier that drags their feet on a system like this should get their spectrum taken away.

We understand the need to figure out a long-term work flow, and to inform the public about the new system so they don’t think they’re getting tricked by spammers. But if disaster does strike, there’s no reason this shouldn’t be in place, at least informally, next week.

See Also: XM / Sirius Last Straw: Time To Fire The FCC

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