Why did the FCC do away with CMAS?

Goodbye CMAS! Hello WEA!  The Federal Communciations Commission (FCC) has officially changed the name of the new national cell broadcast system from the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) to Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).  The reason is pretty simple:  it was confusing for wireless carriers to use WEA and the government to officially use CMAS.  The FCC’s order said the name change will, “…more accurately reflect common parlance and thus reduce confusion.”

Why the FCC and not FEMA?

Frankly, we were weary ourselves of using both terms, and FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), which oversees the cell broadcast system, has been using both terms.

Although FEMA oversees the program and it’s regulated by the FCC, it’s the carriers who provide the infrastructure and customer interactions.  Millions of devices have been shipped with the WEA logo on the printed materials.  So, they obviously have a lot of clout when it came to naming the system.

How do you pronounce “WEA”?

Now, who’s going to decide how to pronounce WEA?  We’ve regularly heard officials close to the program call it both “WEE” and “WEE-ah”.  And, who’s going to tell Apple?  New iPhones use the term “Government Alerts”.  Oh, and someone may want to tell the City of New York, too.  They’ve been calling the system Personal Localized Alerting Network (or PLAN).

As for us, we’ll start using Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) more prominently and occasionally mention, “previously known as CMAS” until we get used to using WEA only.

You can take a look at the FCC order here.