Fourth-generatiion (4G) mobile phones must be able to receive messages transmitted through the cell broadcast system, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday after passing draft regulations governing the standards of the radio frequency identification equipment and base stations used for mobile communications services.
The cell broadcast system has been used by Japan, the US and European countries to quickly inform mobile phone users about natural disasters, allowing them to take precautionary measures in time to reduce casualties.
Lo Chin-hsien (羅金賢), deputy director of the commission’s Technologies Administration Department, said telecoms now use a location-based service (LBS) to disseminate disaster notifications.
“The LBS transmits messages through the text-messaging system of the third-generation [3G] network, which means that the messages can only be sent one at a time. On average, about 2,000 text messages can be sent per minute. However, the time at which the message is received will differ, and not all people receive the disaster-related messages through the LBS,” he said.
“For example, if a landslide occurs on a section of the Suhua Highway, telecoms can only send messages to their customers who are within the service coverage of their base stations near the Suhua Highway. Those who are not close to the highway will not get the messages,” Lo said
With the cell broadcast system, telecoms can distribute mass messages all at one time, and all their customers will receive the messages simultaneously, he said.
According to the commission, telecoms must be equipped with the systems to provide cell broadcast messaging. To be certified by the commission, 4G mobile phones must also be equipped to receive messages through the cell broadcast system.
The commission will also conduct tests to determine if the 4G mobile phones should vibrate or ring when they receive a disaster-related message.
Lo said that the messages would be composed by the Central Emergency Operation Center or the Central Weather Bureau, who would also determine the formats of the messages.
Telecoms must ensure their systems can receive messages from the message composers and transmit them to subscribers, the commission said.