Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN)
What is PLAN?
- The Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN) (technically the Commercial Mobile Alert System) is a new public safety system that allows customers who own an enabled mobile device to receive geographically-targeted text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area.
- This new technology ensures that emergency alerts will not get stuck in highly congested user areas which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services. PLAN enables government officials to target emergency alerts to specific geographic areas through cell towers, which push the information to dedicated receivers in PLAN-enabled mobile devices.
- PLAN complements the existing Emergency Alert System (EAS) which is provided by broadcasters and other media service providers and overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service at the federal level. PLAN and EAS are part of an integrated public alert and warning system being developed by FEMA to allow the public to receive emergency alerts over multiple communications technologies.
- Wireless companies volunteer to participate in PLAN. PLAN is the result of a unique public/private partnership between the FCC, FEMA and the wireless industry, with the singular objective of enhancing public safety.
- The FCC’s rules require participating wireless carriers to deploy PLAN technology by April 7, 2012. Some participants, however, have committed to offer PLAN ahead of schedule (i.e. by the end of 2011). These carriers include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. PLAN was established pursuant to the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act.
How Does it Work?
- Authorized national, state or local government officials send alerts regarding public safety emergencies such as a tornado or a terrorist to PLAN.
- PLAN authenticates the alert, verifies that the sender is authorized, and sends it to participating wireless carriers.
- Participating wireless carriers push the alerts from cell towers to mobile phones in the affected area. The alerts appear like text messages on mobile devices.
- Geographically Targeted: A customer living in downtown New York would not receive a threat alert if he or she happens to be in Chicago when the alert is sent. Similarly, someone visiting downtown New York from Chicago on that same day would receive the alert, assuming the customer has a PLAN-enabled mobile device and his or her wireless carriers participates in PLAN.
- Customers Automatically Signed Up: PLAN allows government officials to send emergency alerts to all subscribers with PLAN-capable devices if their wireless carriers participate in the program. Consumers do not need to sign-up for this service.
- Alerts Are Free: Customers do not pay to receive PLAN alerts.
- Covers Only Critical Emergency Alerts: Consumers will receive only three types of alerts from PLAN: (1) alerts issued by the President; (2) alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life; and (3) Amber Alerts. Participating carriers may allow subscribers to block all but the Presidential alerts.
- Unique Signal and Vibration: A PLAN alert will be accompanied by a unique attention signal and vibration, which is particularly helpful to people with hearing or vision-related disabilities.
Information on Carrier Participation