Emergency alerts now delivered on cellphones

Published On April 6, 2018 | By HN Staff | News, Sci/Tech

Almost all Canadians will receive mandatory emergency cellphone alerts starting April 6. (Getty Images)


Starting Friday, anyone with an LTE cellphone will receive emergency alerts about possible nationwide threats, including natural disasters, terrorist attacks or Amber Alerts.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) issued a telecom regulatory policy to direct wireless communication service providers to implement wireless public alerting on all long-term evolution (LTE) networks by April 6.

Cellphones are now the new source for delivering emergency alerts along with television and radio.

When a danger is present, an alarm will sound along with a vibration and a bilingual text warning.

According to the Emergency Alert System, known as Alert Ready, in order to receive alerts on your cellphone three conditions are required:

  1. Cellphones must be an LTE-device like a smartphone
  2. Cellphones must be wireless public alerting (WPA)-compatible
  3. Cellphones must be connected to an LTE cellular network at the time the emergency

Cellphones that are turned off or muted will not receive alerts until the device is turned back on or un-muted.

The alerts will not disrupt current voice calls. However, the alert will beep as if there was another incoming call. Once the phone has ended its current call, the alarm will alert as normal.

Users will not be billed for the alerts according to Alert Ready.

“Nothing is more important than making sure Canadians are informed in a timely matter about an imminent danger such as a tornado, wildfire or Amber Alert when a child’s life is in grave danger,” Ian Scott, the Chairperson and CEO of the CRTC said.

“Mandatory distribution of public emergency alert messages on mobile devices will help do just that. Along with the wireless industry and our partners in federal, provincial and territorial governments, the CRTC has worked to provide Canadians with the emergency system they need to take appropriate safety measures if need be.”

According to the CRTC, a nationwide emergency test will take place between May 6 and May 12.

To learn more about wireless alerts visit Alert Ready.

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