T-Mobile, CTIA reiterate that WEA requirements for 5G are premature

emergency alerts (Pixabay)
The FCC asked stakeholders for comment on how to best incorporate emergency alerts and warnings into the development of 5G.

T-Mobile US and CTIA are among those telling the FCC that it’s premature to consider how Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) will or should be supported on 5G networks because standards are in such an early stage of development.

The FCC issued what it calls a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) concerning WEA, and one of the topics it’s seeking comments on is how to best incorporate alerts and warnings into the development of 5G technologies. The commission acknowledged in its FNPRM that CTIA thinks it’s premature, but it disagreed, reasoning in part that including WEA alerts and warnings in 5G from the beginning can eventually reduce implementation costs for service providers.

T-Mobile says there’s little to say about creating WEA capabilities for 5G because it’s too early. “While some companies have announced that they plan field trials, ‘5G’ covers a vast array of potential applications, from short-range low-speed communications for the Internet of Things to ultra-high-speed video and data transmissions, serving as a wireless-fiber backbone or as a last-mile or last-hundred-feet link,” the company said in its filing (PDF) with the FCC. “Real-world deployment on a significant scale will not occur for several years until standards are finalized or, at a minimum after standards have advanced significantly.”

CTIA also said that not all 5G use cases will be amenable to supporting WEA functionality. For example, “medical devices that are implanted in the human body would not be configured to receive broadcast alerts, and Internet of Things (‘IoT’) devices will have limited battery and data capabilities and may have no need to receive WEA messages,” CTIA said in its filing.

“5G standards development and use cases are still in a nascent state and will require several more years before they are stable enough to determine the efficacy of providing WEA messaging. CTIA therefore believes that any WEA requirements for 5G systems are premature.”

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T-Mobile is also urging the commission to allow service providers to evaluate potential solutions before establishing firm geo-targeting requirements. For example, the concept of harmonizing WEA geo-targeting accuracy with wireless E911 location accuracy or applying the E911 latency standard to WEA “appears to be unrealistic,” the operator said. “WEA and E911 operate on completely different platforms. In particular, E911 location estimates subject to accuracy rules are generated only in response to a 911 call placed via the handset by the subscriber. WEA location information, in contrast, must be generated in response to an alert sent via a separate platform (rather than the handset.)

“Moreover, because WEA uses cell broadcast technology to transmit information to many handsets simultaneously, with no need for individualized interaction between the network and each handset, it is unclear at this time how 911 solutions can be leveraged to interact with WEA,” T-Mobile said.

Similarly, CTIA recommends the commission withhold any final action on geo-targeting requirements until the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) completes its work to determine the most effective and feasible approach toward improving geo-targeting.