US pushes back national wireless alert test to Oct 3

Credit CBS3

FEMA was going to send out the test alert Thursday, but pushed it back because of its response to Hurricane Florence.

The first for the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system which are the cell phone alerts that are sent to most smart phones. More than 100 cell phone carriers will participate in the test, FEMA said, including major companies such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

FEMA said the presidential alerts can only be used for national emergencies.

The WEA portion of the test commences at 8:18 a.m. HST and the EAS portion follows at 8:20 a.m. HST. Emergency management agencies across the country got word that FEMA would test out the presidential alert.

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You don't need to take any action for the test. Previous successful EAS national tests were conducted in September 2011, 2016 and 2017 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency officials. Users cannot opt out of presidential alerts-which will reportedly make a uniquely loud noise-so the only way Americans can avoid seeing the messages is to turn their phones off.

Tim Groeling, a UCLA communications professor, told NBC News that "broadcast-based emergency alert systems. have remained professional and impartial over decades". Users can't opt out of the WEA test, according to FEMA. During this time, cell phones that are switched on and within range of an active cell tower should be capable of receiving the test message. It specifies that the system can only be used to communicate about disasters or terrorist attacks. The message will be titled, "Presidential Alert", and use the same special tone and vibration as alerts received through this system when there are threats to public safety. Like the national EAS alerts, which send warnings via local radio and TV, WEA is part of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

You'll soon be getting a message on your phone from the President of the United States - whether you are a supporter or not. "No action is required".

There will be an initial test of the presidential alert system on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 2:18 p.m. EDT.

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