The new service enables all State, County, and City Emergency Operations Departments and Agencies to send and deliver emergency messages in seconds, not minutes, to subscribers in affected areas. School districts, college campuses, power companies, and businesses can also be licensed to use this assured notification service.
In times of heavy communication traffic -- and particularly during emergencies -- overwhelmed voice and email networks may prevent prompt delivery of text messages sent by SMTP (Short Message Transfer Protocol). FAST sidesteps those bottlenecks by using only the SMPP (Short Message Peer-to-Peer) Protocol to provide very rapid and assured delivery of text messages.
Using VeriSign's network, FAST will leverage agreements with most major U.S. cell phone carriers for utilizing the SMPP protocol to deliver SMS text messages to standard cell phones. These proprietary agreements pave the way for establishing a reliable, nationwide text message alert system that can also be customized to meet the needs of organizations and agencies regardless of their size.
"Leveraging the scalability of VeriSign's mobile infrastructure to power innovative services like FAST is an important part of our business," said Charles Landry, vice president, messaging services, VeriSign. "VeriSign's network currently enables more than 300 million mobile digital interactions per day, a number we see grow well in excess of 100% year over year," continued Landry.
Shared Responsibility Model Keeps Costs in Line
The FAST application is unique because it utilizes a "Shared Responsibility" model in which individuals subscribe to the national system to receive text message notifications for their specified ZIP codes and from specified groups. Most other emergency alert providers generally charge organizations large setup and annual fees, then a fee per subscriber and/or a fee per message sent.
In the FAST system, any individual desiring emergency alerts may subscribe through their cell phone company for only 99 cents per month. The organizations licensed to send messages do not incur any expense, nor do they charge the subscribers any fees whatsoever. Because of the FAST national backbone of cell service providers, subscribers may elect to receive alerts from any ZIP code location within the United States. Opting in and out of the FAST system is very simple and can be done either from one's cell phone or on the FAST Web site at www.firstalerttext.com.
FAST has already licensed several organizations, including city and county Emergency Operations Centers and a school district.
"FAST is the most efficient and assured method of sending text messages both to emergency personnel and the general public," said Richard Shepard, Emergency Management director for Hardee County in central Florida. "It's cost effective, very simple to use, and most importantly, it gives us tremendous flexibility in sending out specific messages to the groups and subgroups we create."
"Our school district wanted the most efficient and cost-effective text messaging system available, and FAST provides immediate and assured delivery at virtually no cost to the district," said Dick Cvitanich, superintendent of Lake Pend Oreille School District in Ponderay, Idaho. "FAST's Shared Responsibility model is ideal as individuals voluntarily subscribe to this national system for just 99 cents billed monthly to their cell phone number, and they can register for as many schools and ZIP codes as desired. The added feature of being able to send out informational messages gives the district great flexibility on the FAST system."
The FAST application receives information directly from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) so that severe storm and other weather-related warnings specific to a subscriber's registered zip codes will be sent to his/her cell phone.
In order to help inform the general public about the availability of FAST, two public service announcements (30- and 60-second versions) have been produced and are available for any state, county or city to its local TV and radio stations. The spots can be viewed by clicking on the "Media" link on the FAST Web site.
VeriSign, Inc. (
About First Alert System Text Corporation
Developer of the National Emergency Alert Notification Service, utilizing a Shared Responsibility model to give individuals access to emergency and informational text message notifications sent by organizations licensed on the FAST network.
Statements in this announcement other than historical data and information constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause VeriSign's actual results to differ materially from those stated or implied by such forward-looking statements. The potential risks and uncertainties include, among others, the uncertainty of future revenue and profitability and potential fluctuations in quarterly operating results due to such factors as the risk that VeriSign's announced strategic relationships, including the relationship described herein, may not result in additional products, services, customers, profits or revenues; and increased competition and pricing pressures. More information about potential factors that could affect the company's business and financial results is included in VeriSign's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including in the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006 and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. VeriSign undertakes no obligation to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this press release.