FCC, FEMA to test 'Wireless Emergency Alert' system on Wednesday

Helen Aguilar
October 3, 2018

"You would not have a situation where any sitting president would wake up one morning and attempt to send a particular message".

UCLA communications professor Tim Groeling agreed, writing via email, "broadcast-based emergency alert systems. have remained professional and impartial over decades". This is the first time a nationwide wireless emergency alert has been tested.

That name had generated questions about how and when the system can be used.

"It should be reserved for true situations, true emergencies when we need to get the public's attention", former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said, adding it is created to be used very specifically - and rarely. So older phones with updated software may still get the alerts.

If you're looking at another piece of glowing glass - like your television - during the test, you may just see the alert there, too.

To help ensure that WEA alerts are accessible to the entire public, including people with disabilities, WEA alerts are accompanied by a unique tone and vibration.

But it's not exactly from President Trump.

Extreme and Severe Threats: These alerts are used to alert the public to imminent safety threats, and are mostly used for weather warnings.

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AMBER Alerts: These alerts notify the public about child abduction.

What Can I Expect Today?

A group of New Yorkers is suing to be able to opt out of the alert, claiming it infringes on their First Amendment rights. These types of alerts would be sent in the event of major national emergency, such as a mass terrorism event. "No action is needed" and will display the header "Presidential Alert".

The test is supposed to take place at 2:18 p.m. EDT on September 20.

If this had been an actual emergency alert, an official message would have followed the alert tone you heard at the start of this message.

Only wireless providers who have chosen to participate in the national WEA test will deliver the WEA message to their customers' mobile devices. "No action is required".

Like an Amber Alert, you smart phone will vibrate and make an audible alarm sound.

There will also be a way for cell phone users to partially unsubscribe to the alerts if desired.

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