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May 06, 2014

Senate passes bill on free text alerts during calamities

The Senate recently passed a bill that requires telecommunications companies in the Philippines to send out free text alerts to their subscribers in the event of impending calamities or disasters.

Twenty senators on Monday approved the House Bill (H.B.) 353, or the “Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act,” which will require local telcos to send out free SMS alerts, early warnings, and other useful information like evacuation areas and relief sites during disaster situations. Telcos which fail or refuse to send free alerts will be fined of up to Php10 million.

text alert

The new bill aims to improve disaster response and preparedness in the country, especially in the events of typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

“We can greatly use the instantaneous, flexible and reliable short message service (SMS) technology as a potent tool during disaster situations – one that is intimately understood and easily accessed by millions of Filipinos who have cellphones,” said Senate President Franklin Drilon.

{source: GMA News} {image source}

President signs into law Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act

9 Responses to “Senate passes bill on free text alerts during calamities”

  1. Beeps says:

    How would this actually work? Would it be an additional service from Telcos which would require them add manpower? Just make sure the cost won’t be markup to the subscribers.

    • In addition to my reply below, re: Project NOAH. Far as I can tell, they use sensors to get various data on weather conditions. Would be a cool — and useful — project to interface those sensors with the carriers’ SMS/MMS equipment

    • TriadWarfare says:

      @Daniel
      That would require manpower as well as someone has to interpret all of the data that the sensors detect.

      Perhaps, they will have a centralised reporting agency as you said and may only require to pass on the message to all those who are concerned, however, it doesn’t mean that telcos can set up this system with no extra cost from them.

      This law can have negative effects among the telco groups in our country as they will be shouldering the cost of creating and maintaining this kind of system so they will try to collect their losses through other means (load expiry, less promos, premium SMS partners, intolerance to billing /usage disputes etc).

      The profits that are local telcos gain from their customers are very small, so that’s why our technology is behind as they can’t invest in better infrastructure and better peering agreements on shore or offshore. Perhaps the government should give something to our telcos in return for doing this, rather than ordering to to this or face the consequences and ultimately, they will still pass on their expenses to the customer through indirect means.

  2. bryan_mmx says:

    Let me guess what telcos will do. Put ads along with the warning alert.

  3. Hello says:

    That kind of idea was good and was also proposed on the other countries also but the problem is, text messaging is a point-to-point process. the process won’t be that fast and the system might overload. There are other means to do that like, EBS.

    • Not having read the bill, I’ll have to guess that the carriers will transmit the warnings way in advance. E.g., the areas in the path of Yolanda had two (?) days’ warning.

      And in response to Beeps above, I’ll also guess that no additional manpower will be required, maybe just the initial programming. The warnings will probably come from the DOST’s Project NOAH.

      But let’s wait for the Lower House to produce their own bill, then for the bicameral committee to reconcile the versions, and then for the appropriate authorities to come up with the Implementing Rules and Regulations.

  4. Ryan says:

    Ang daming magagaling na pinoy. Walang ginawa kung di mamuna ng batas. Isipin nyo nalng makakatulong ito kahit papano. Wag kang magreklamo kung wala ka naman ginagawang maganda pra mabago ang buhay nting mga pinoy. Crab mentality at its best.

  5. Yin says:

    parang amber alert sa california

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This article was written by Louie Diangson, Senior Editor of YugaTech. You can follow him at @John_Louie.

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