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Sprint, Other Operators to Offer Emergency Alerts in Big Apple

Nearly a decade after terrorist attacks on U.S. soil made Osama bin Laden the most wanted man in America, federal agencies and leading telecommunications providers convened at the World Trade Center site to announce a service that will allow customers with an enabled mobile device to receive messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area.

The Personal Localized Alerting Network, or PLAN, also known as Commercial Mobile Alert Service, is a free offering that will be available in New York City by the end of the year, said the Federal Communications Commission.

The agency noted the service would be available in the Big Apple at least two calendar quarters before the rest of the country.  

PLAN ensures that emergency alerts will not get stalled by user congestion, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services,” the FCC said Tuesday. 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.”

Among those who appeared at the World Trade Center site: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski; Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate; and top executives from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

Following the devastating tornadoes in the Southeast, we are witnessing yet again the critical role the public plays as part of our nations emergency management team. Making sure that they get useful and life-saving information, quickly and easily, right on their mobile phones, will help more people get out of harms way when a threat exists,” said FEMA Administrator Fugate. This new technology could become a lifeline for millions of Americans and is another tool that will strengthen our nations resilience against all hazards.”

The deadline for activating PLAN technology is April 2012.

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon will offer the service in New York City at least two quarters ahead of schedule, according to the FCC.

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,” the FCC said.

Sprint said it was the first national wireless carrier to successfully test and trial the service with the California Emergency Management Agency and the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services.

The carrier has two mobile phones available that are PLAN compatible: the Sanyo Innuendo by Kyocera and the Sanyo Vero by Kyocera. Sprint plans to introduce more PLAN-capable mobile devices later this year.

As a company whose headquarters are across the street from the site of the World Trade Towers, Verizon is acutely aware of the critical public safety issues here in New York City,” said Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg. “Were committed to using our technology to put these empowering new tools in our customers hands, and we are proud to do our part in helping create a safer, more secure society.”


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