[opendtv] Reading between the lines

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 11 May 2011 08:36:27 -0400

The following story is a brazen commercial for a technology that has seen limited deployment, but could be quite valuable in times of emergency. In essence, FM radio broadcasters sending alert messages to FM enabled mobile devices.

Reading between the lines, we learn that the system was helpful to residents in Alabama who had access to it. But more important, we learn that many of these people had to rely on radio or wireless broadband to keep informed about the storms in the area, because of widespread power outages that rendered broadcast and cable TV useless (without a generator).

Clearly, a TV broadcast system that works reliably for mobile devices, coupled with compatible receivers in these devices, would allow TV broadcasters to "stay in the game" when mains power is disrupted. It is EQUALLY clear that any number of alternatives could work as well. For example, the telcos could deliver text messages to subscribers in affected areas

In fact, there are some systems doing this already, or about to launch:

Feds and Wireless Carriers Launch Mobile EAS in New York

The reality is that two things are necessary for a reliable alert system:

1. Reliable RF transmissions from a "hardened" network.

2. Ubiquitous receivers for these alerts.

And today's reality is that the telcos operate these networks and have the largest customer base of devices that people rely on when they are mobile. Hardened is a relative term, but each cellular tower has emergency generators and most survive catastrophic weather events. I would also note that these emergencies tend to drive people to these networks, which in turn suggests that additional spectrum would be very helpful in times of emergency.

Seems broadcasters don't want to give up valuable FREE spectrum, but they are more than willing to ask the politicians to mandate a technical solution to keep them in the game...

Hence the conclusion of this article, that the government should mandate that every cellphone have an FM chip.



Radio's Use Of ALERT FM Saved Lives In Alabama
May 10, 2011 at 4:00 AM (PT)

GLOBAL SECURITY SYSTEMS division ALERT FM. which uses the FM radio platform to deliver emergency alert text messages, undoubtedly helped save hundreds of lives during the devastating tornados that ripped across the SOUTH last month. The ALERT FM system is deployed in 18 counties in ALABAMA, using the Radio Broadcast Data Service (RBDS) FM-subcarrier technology to deliver text alerts up to 240-characters to any electronic device with ALERT FM software and an enabled FM radio receiver chip. "With an FM receiver chip in every fixed and mobile device, the ALERT FM emergency alert text message broadcast would be ubiquitous and reach even more people during times of local or national disasters and other emergencies," GSS Pres./CEO Robert L. Adams said. "In addition, ALERT FM 'wakes up' the FM-enabled device when an emergency alert message is delivered, further enhancing public safety"

"I know we saved a lot of folks because they saw the posts on our FACEBOOK page," COX MEDIA GROUP/BIRMINGHAM VP/Market Manager DAVID DUBOSE said. "Many people called our stations to say their power was off at their home due to the storms early on WEDNESDAY morning before the killer tornados even touched down. They relied on our stations and The GSS ALERT FM system for vital information." "This is exactly why the American public needs and deserves FM chip integration in their electronic devices, including mobile phones," noted SHARON TINSLEY, President of the ALABAMA BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION. TODAY (5/10), GSS will demonstrate the ALERT FM System during CES On The Hill, the CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW (CES) event that targets members of CONGRESS at Booth 21.

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