Cell broadcast: Federal government initiates TKG amendment

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The federal government launched the nationwide introduction of the Cell Broadcast warning system on Wednesday. The cabinet has recommended a corresponding amendment to the Telecommunications Act (TKG) to the parliamentary groups in the governing coalition of the CDU, CSU and SPD. “With the amendment to the TKG presented today, the necessary legal framework for the introduction of cell broadcast is in place,” said Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU).

After the catastrophic floods in July, the federal government and the authorities came under pressure because the warning systems had not worked as expected. After the federal government had ignored cell broadcast, which had long been established elsewhere for years, in favor of an app solution, Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer decided at the beginning of August to introduce cell broadcast at short notice.

Cell broadcast is based on all current cellular standards. As with the known SMS, the signaling channels of the cellular network are used to transmit messages. However, individual addressing is not necessary. Warning messages are sent by the antenna like a radio signal to all devices registered in the radio cell and received by them. The warning messages can be sent out in a regionally limited manner and are clearly noticeable.

“The introduction of cell broadcast will complement sirens, apps and radio,” said Seehofer. In future, cell broadcast warnings should also be triggered via the MoWaS modular warning system of the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK). For this, among other things, the technical processes and interfaces must be defined.

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“We are now working out the technical details together with the Federal Network Agency, the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, the Federal Office for Information Security and the mobile network operators,” said Altmaier. The aim is to change the TKG during the current legislative period so that the technology can soon be implemented in mobile networks. Network operators estimate that the system could be ready for use around the summer of 2022 if the legislature acts quickly now.

According to the European Code for Electronic Communications adopted in 2018, EU member states must ensure “by June 21, 2022” that the providers of mobile number-based interpersonal communication services send public warnings to end users “. Until now, the federal government had assumed that its own solution with MoWas and apps such as Katwarn or Nina would meet these requirements.

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