GSS makes pitch for FM in cell phone alerting


Here’s yet another reason for cellular telephones to include FM radio reception capability. Global Security Systems (GSS) is offering a Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) solution to cellular carriers based on its already-proven Alert FM technology.

Alert FM allows emergency management officials to rapidly disseminate warnings and safety information in the form of text alerts which can be received by FM radio-enabled wireless phones based on their specified locations. The Alert FM system utilizes Radio Broadcast Data System (RBDS) technology over the existing nationwide and redundant FM radio infrastructure to allow rapid dissemination of emergency alert messages to citizenry based on geographic or organizational groupings. Alert FM can target FM-enabled devices in a single building, a football arena, or the entire country.

According to GSS, its announcement marks a milestone in the implementation of CMAS, a national program established by the FCC in response to the Warning, Alert and Response (WARN) Act passed by Congress in 2006. GSS representatives served on the CMAS Advisory Committee that developed the standards for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  FM RBDS was determined by the Committee to be a suitable alternative technology solution to satisfy CMAS standard requirements, although the carriers have to date focused primarily on building their own text message-based system using their wireless phone infrastructure.

Many broadcasters and other have insisted that the CMAS system favored by the wireless industry is unlikely to work in real world emergencies. “In times of disaster when cellular networks become overloaded, FM radio’s single-point to multiple-point transmission assures the delivery of critical information to a vast number of FM-enabled devices simultaneously,” GSS noted.

How would the GSS FM radio-based system work for cellular phones?

“The CMAS network, part of the Integrated Public Alert Warning (IPAWS) framework, will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to accept and aggregate alerts from the President of the United States, imminent danger, Amber Alerts. GSSNet will receive the CMAS alerts from local, state, and federal agencies and transmit them to FM radio towers that broadcast the alerts to mobile customers with FM-enabled handsets within a specified targeted area,” GSS explained. “GSS has the capability to send up to 240-character text messages — exceeding the minimum required 90 characters — plus real-time audio emergency information.
FM-enabled devices can roam like a cell phone, scanning for new signals as they move from tower to tower.”

RBR-TVBR observation: The logic is so clear and indisputable, but yet the cellular carriers keep insisting that the grass is blue and the sky green. Wireless telephony fails in disaster situations, so any CMAS solution based on that infrastructure is guaranteed to fail in some areas, apart from the problem with the spectrum being clogged with traffic even in areas where the cell towers are still functioning. Radio never fails because even if half of the stations in an area are knocked off the air, the other half will still provide 100% emergency information coverage.