Partnership between the California Emergency Management Agency and Sprint will pilot the nation’s first Commercial Mobile Alert System

August 24, 2010

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BUSINESS WIRE), August 24, 2010 - Today, the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) and Sprint (NYSE:S) announced that they are leading the nation in deploying the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) technology – a powerful public safety tool that allows emergency management officials to rapidly disseminate warnings and safety information via text alerts to wireless phones based on their specified locations.

As government officials and Sprint spearhead deployment of CMAS, they will create new opportunities to save lives and protect property on a local, state or national scale during natural disasters or emergency situations, such as terrorist attacks, wildfires, hurricanes and school shootings.

“California is proud to lead the country in having the ability to instantly alert residents via their mobile phones to an emergency or disaster specific to their current location,” said California Emergency Management Agency Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen. “This technology, along with Sprint’s seasoned record of providing reliable wireless and network support during the state’s wildfires, floods and earthquakes, will prove a tremendous resource to the country’s public safety and emergency management community.”

The nation’s first CMAS pilot program will be conducted in San Diego County beginning in fall 2010 in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services. The technology will be tested across urban, suburban and rural areas, and includes the involvement of law enforcement agencies, local jurisdictions and other regional partners.

”Our agency was able to notify thousands of residents about evacuations during the 2007 wildfires,” said Ron Lane, director of the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services. “The new technology will expand our reach, allowing us to immediately and easily contact everyone in an impacted area, even if they are not residents of our county."

Federal agencies and wireless leaders make CMAS a reality

Today’s announcement marks a milestone in the implementation of the CMAS, a national program established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to the Warning, Alert and Response Act passed by Congress in 2006.

  • The CMAS network will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to accept and aggregate alerts from the President of the United States, the National Weather Service (NWS) and state and local emergency operations centers.
  • The alerts will be sent over a secure interface to Sprint and other participating wireless providers, and then sent to cell phones as text messages using the CMAS technology.
  • In addition to imminent threats from state and local agencies, CMAS technology will enable alerts to Americans related to national emergencies, such as terrorist attacks and child abduction alerts.

CMAS technology is similar to emergency alerts currently broadcast on cable television or disseminated to citizens through calls to their wired phones. This new technology, however, will send emergency text messages to mobile phones with the added advantage of reaching any cell phone within a defined geographic area. That area could be as large as a county or city, or targeted to a smaller area in some instances. This enables flexible targeting of messages so they quickly reach the right people in well-defined areas. Text-based CMAS alerts will include a dedicated vibration cadence and audio attention signal for wireless customers with hearing or vision disabilities.

“Sprint is honored to apply our dependable network technology and extensive communications experience to this groundbreaking program,” said Kevin Kunkel, regional vice president of Sales at Sprint. “This public-private partnership further validates Sprint’s priority of supporting the public safety community and offering a leading-edge technology that alerts residents of nearby dangers.”

The CMAS technology in Sprint’s network is enabled by Alcatel-Lucent’s Broadcast Message Center (BMC), which serves as the secure interface between CMAS and Sprint’s network to meet the mission critical needs of delivering emergency alert messages. BMC receives the CMAS alerts from state and federal agencies and broadcasts them to cell sites serving mobile customers within a targeted geographic area.

“The ability to widely, efficiently and immediately communicate emergency information across mobile devices is a critical factor in ensuring the safety and well being of our citizens,” said Morgan Wright, Vice President Global Public Safety Solutions for Alcatel-Lucent. “We applaud Sprint and the state of California for undertaking this important trial and look forward to contributing the unique capabilities of our Broadcast Message Center solution to this program.”

CMAS could potentially save lives during an emergency

CMAS will provide emergency management professionals with expanded options in the face of a variety of situations involving imminent danger to lives and property. Some potential examples include:

  • An emergency message could be targeted to cell phones at a stadium event, informing attendees of where to go or what direction to drive following a nearby highway accident or chemical spill.
  • Emergency information related to wildfires, mudslides, floods or other localized events could be targeted to residents in specific neighborhoods or along routes where the danger is greatest.
  • Students and faculty across a campus could be quickly informed when lockdown conditions are necessary due to a threat.
  • If a suspicious package were reported in an airport, shopping mall or office complex, thousands could be sent messages to move to a certain area until the threat was removed.

Sprint’s commitment to supporting the public’s safety

Sprint brings a wealth of experience in public safety and crisis communications to the CMAS pilot program, including:

  • Providing wireless infrastructure and devices to aid with the relief efforts following the 2010 earthquake in the Republic of Haiti;
  • Deploying portable generators and increasing network capacity along key highways and evacuations routes in southern California during the 2009 Station Fire;
  • Enhancing network capacity and coverage in around the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to support residents, visitors and law enforcement officials at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration;
  • Hardening the networks and working closely with local public safety agencies in hurricane-prone areas so that critical communications are available to Sprint customers before, during and after a storm.

To learn more about Sprint’s public safety solutions, visit To learn more about CMAS and download a fact sheet, visit

About Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 48.1 million customers at the end of the second quarter of 2010 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, Common Cents Mobile and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. With its customer-focused strategy, you can learn more and visit Sprint at or and

About Cal EMA

The California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) coordinates overall state agency preparedness for, response to and recovery from major disasters. Cal EMA also maintains the State Emergency Plan, which outlines the organizational structure for state management of the response to natural and manmade disasters.

About Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) is the trusted transformation partner of service providers, enterprises, strategic industries such as defense, energy, healthcare, transportation, and governments worldwide, providing solutions to deliver voice, data and video communication services to end-users. A leader in fixed, mobile and converged broadband networking, IP technologies, applications and services, Alcatel-Lucent leverages the unrivalled technical and scientific expertise of Bell Labs, one of the largest innovation powerhouses in the communications industry. With operations in more than 130 countries and the most experienced global services organization in the industry, Alcatel-Lucent is a local partner with a global reach. Alcatel-Lucent achieved revenues of Euro 15.2 billion in 2009 and is incorporated in France, with executive offices located in Paris. For more information, visit Alcatel-Lucent on the Internet:, read the latest posts on the Alcatel-Lucent’s blog and follow us on Twitter:


Crystal Davis, 571-288-6806
Caroline Semerdjian, 415-684-7314