Lawmakers ask FCC, DHS to consider cell phone alert system

Five dozen lawmakers want the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Homeland Security to develop an alert system using radio tuners and cellphones.

A group of 60 House members sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, requesting their agencies explore the potential benefits of including FM radio tuners in mobile handsets for a national emergency alert system.

The letter points out that the Warning Alert and Response Network Act of 2006 authorized the wireles industry to create an alert system and says that incorporating FM tuners "could help achieve this goal...Radio's emergency alert system is a proven, reliable service."

Few mobile devices in the U.S. have radio tuners, even though 700 million phones available in other countries offer radios, the letter says.

"There is no excuse for American consumers' access to advanced technology to lag behind that available worldwide."

The signers of the letter, which was delivered to the agencies Friday, include Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) and Joe Wilson (R-SC.). and had the story yesterday.