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Cell Phone Signal Boosters Help With Wireless Emergency Alerts

Read important details explaining what are Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and how to check if your cell phone is capable of receiving them? If your smart phone is capable, why should you ensure your phone is set to receive them, and how to do so?

Booster ensures wireless emergency alerts are received

A Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) is a notification delivered to your mobile device as a complimentary public safety service provided by authorized senders. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. The purpose of these alerts is to keep you informed of any imminent threat to your safety, or to notify of any missing persons alerts in your area. For example, AMBER alerts. In order to receive WEAs, you must be located in an area that is targeted by authorized senders to receive such alerts, and you must have a capable device. Furthermore, that capable device needs to have reception capability - If not, a cell phone signal booster may be used to ensure reception at home, at place of work, or while travelling in vehicles. Please review list of wireless emergency alert capable cell phones, including instructions for device settings - To receive, or not receive Wireless Emergency Alerts on your cell phone.

Frequently asked question: My device is similar to the device of someone I know who received a wireless emergency alert - I do not understand why I didn't receive an alert? The simple answer is: Either you do not have a wireless emergency alert capable cell phone, or you may also not receive them if you do not have any antenna signal bars on your phone due to cellular service blockage that typically occurs inside homes, buildings, vehicles. A cell phone signal booster may be an option you may consider to address that problem.

More frequently asked questions about cell phone boosters and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs):

1. When will I start receiving WEA messages?

It depends. WEA capabilities were available beginning in April 2012, but many mobile devices, especially older ones, are not WEA-capable. When you buy a new mobile device, it probably will be able to receive WEA messages.

2. Why are Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) important to me?

Alerts received at the right time can help keep you safe during an emergency. With WEA, warnings can be sent to your mobile device when you may be in harm's way, without the need to download an app or subscribe to a service.

3. How will I know the difference between WEA and a regular text message?

WEA messages include a special tone and vibration, both repeated twice.

4. What types of WEA messages will the National Weather Service (NWS) send?

• Tsunami Warnings.

• Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings.

• Hurricane, Typhoon, Dust Storm and Extreme Wind Warnings.

5. Is this the same service public safety agencies have asked the public to register for?

No, but they are complementary. Local agencies may have asked you to sign up to receive telephone calls, text messages, or emails. Those messages often include specific details about a critical event. WEAs are very short messages designed to get your attention in a critical situation. They may not give all the details you receive from other notification services.

6. In What Areas Are Wireless Emergency Alerts Available?

Generally, Wireless Emergency Alerts are available nationally, with very few exceptions. Accordingly, the following is a message required by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC):

Notice Regarding Transmission of Wireless Emergency Alerts (Commercial Mobile Alert Service). Notice required as per FCC Rule 47 C.F.R. Section 10.240.

Cellular service providers make the decision to provide Wireless Emergency Alerts within sections of its service area on Wireless Emergency Alert-capable devices, as defined by the T & Cs of their Service Agreement. There's no additional charge by mobile service carriers for these Wireless Emergency Alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts may not be available in the entire service area or on all devices; or if a subscriber is outside their wireless service carrier's coverage area.

7. What Information Will Be Included in a Wireless Emergency Alert?

• Extreme weather, and other threatening emergencies in your area.

• AMBER Alerts.

• Presidential Alerts during a national emergency.

The following information will be typically provided in a Wireless Emergency Alert and updates:

• Category of Alert.
• Type of Event.
• Response.
• Severity.
• Urgency.
• Certainty.

WEA will look like a text message. The WEA message will show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert. The message will be no more than 90 characters.

Please Note: Because these alerts are initiated by authorized senders, your cell phone service provider will not possess any information other than what is provided in the message.

8. Will I Automatically Receive a Wireless Emergency Alert?

Within a specific geographical area, Wireless Emergency Alerts are broadcast to inform WEA-capable subscribers of missing person reports in that area and of imminent threats to safety. Authorized senders issue these alerts when they feel it is required, and only under strict guidelines. If you have received a WEA, it means you're within a specific geographical location which is being targeted by an authorized sender. You should immediately and carefully review the information contained within the alert, then proceed as directed.

9. How often will I receive WEA messages?

You may get very few WEA messages, or you may receive frequent messages when conditions change during an emergency. The number of messages depends on the number of imminent threats to life or property in your area.

10. If, during an emergency, I can't make or receive calls or text messages due to network congestion, will I still be able to receive a WEA message?

Yes, WEA messages are not affected by network congestion. However, they are affected if cell phone does not receive any reception due to lack of coverage when inside homes, buildings, vehicles, or too far away for cellular towers.

11. Why Would I Receive a Test Wireless Emergency Alert?

Monthly test alerts of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) are required by participating carriers. The only people who should receive these alerts are specific people within the carrier's network employ, or people within certain emergency response agencies. If you are one of those, and want them stopped for any reason, a silent over-the-air fix from the manufacturer of your device should prevent further receipt of test alerts.

12. Why Did I Receive Duplicate or Multiple Wireless Emergency Alerts?

Devices which are compatible with Wireless Emergency Alerts are designed to automatically reject duplicate alerts. However, authorized senders will occasionally issue updates to WEAs with a new alert ID and new information. The updates may appear similar to the original alert, but will contain additional information.

13. If I’m Travelling or Roaming, Will I Receive "Home" Wireless Emergency Alerts?

No, the only devices that should receive these alerts are those compatible with Wireless Emergency Alerts and which are geographically located within the targeted area. Alerts won't be delivered to any devices outside that area.

14. How Can I Find out If My Device Is Capable of Receiving Government Wireless Emergency Alerts?

All devices capable of receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts will be marked accordingly on the retail callout card, and at the online wireless equipment descriptions at e-commerce websites showing the logo for Wireless Emergency Alert Capable. In addition, all cellular retail stores would show them as being specifically listed as "WEA capable".

15. Can Anything Be Done to Make My Device Capable of Receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts?

Hardware changes and special software are required to support Wireless Emergency Alert capabilities which, unfortunately, can’t be retrofitted to older model devices.

16. I'm Wondering Why I Didn't Receive a Wireless Emergency Alert When I Was in a Geographically Targeted Alert Zone?

Wireless Emergency Alerts are directed to cell sites which provide wireless service to quite specific areas. Your device must have been receiving service in a different area, or perhaps from an adjacent area cell site which was not a target of the alert.

It is important to note that most Wireless Emergency Alerts will be broadcast several times in order to reach the maximum number of devices within the targeted area; However, once a device has received an alert, duplicate or identical alerts will not be accepted.

Another important point is that alerts can only be received by capable devices. If you don't have a capable device, even though you're within the targeted geographic location, you won't receive an alert.

Please review list of wireless emergency alert capable cell phones, including instructions for device settings for Wireless Emergency Alerts.

Lastly, you may also not receive them if you do not have any antenna signal bars on your phone due to cellular service blockage that typically occurs inside homes, buildings, vehicles. A cell phone signal booster may be an option you may consider to address that problem.

17. I'm Travelling Today, and My Device Is Compatible with Wireless Emergency Alert: Why Didn’t I Receive an Alert?

Remember that Wireless Emergency Alerts are geographically targeted: this means that only subscribers with WEA-capable devices who are located within the target alert zone will receive these alerts. You won't receive alerts outside of the targeted geographical area even though your device is WEA-capable.

18. What if I travel into a threat area after a WEA message is already sent?

If you travel into a threat area after an alert is first sent, your WEA-capable device will receive the message when you enter the area.

19. If I Have Messaging Block on My Phone, Will I Still Receive Wireless Emergency Alerts?

Yes, you will still receive these messages. Wireless Emergency Alerts are not blocked by messaging block because they're not sent as text or multimedia messages.

20. What Is the Charge for Receiving a Wireless Emergency Alert?

There is no charge – wireless emergency alerts are provided for free!

21. What If I Don’t Want to Receive Wireless Emergency Alerts?

If you choose not to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts you can opt out by changing your devices settings and opt-out of AMBER and Imminent Danger Alerts: However, it is not possible to opt out of Presidential Alerts. The WARN Act directed the FCC to adopt technical and operational requirements for WEA service. Wireless service carriers that participate in WEA must adhere to the FCC’s WEA rules. In passing the WARN Act, Congress allowed participating cellular carriers to offer their subscribers the capability to block all WEAs, EXCEPT those issued directly by the President. Please check your devices User Guide for further instructions.

The following are the three types of Wireless Emergency Alerts:

• Presidential Alerts
These alerts concern National emergencies;

• Imminent Danger Alerts
These alerts concern severe and extreme weather events and threat levels;

• AMBER Alerts
These alerts concern the disappearance of persons – minor or otherwise.

22. What are AMBER Alerts?

AMBER Alerts are urgent bulletins issued in the most serious child-abduction cases. The America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert Program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry.

23. Who will send WEAs to issue AMBER Alerts?

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), in coordination with State and local public safety officials, sends out AMBER Wireless Emergency Alerts through IPAWS.

24. If I've Received a Wireless Emergency Alert, How Do I Obtain Additional Information to Ensure My Safety?

Review, then carefully follow instructions according to the information included in the Wireless Emergency Alert that you received. You may receive updates to WEAs from Authorized Senders, detailing further information. Stay alert for subsequent updates and carefully review them for new information and instructions.

Please Note: These alerts are initiated by Authorized Senders; therefore, beyond what is provided in the message, cellular providers will have no further information.

25. Is the Government or Carrier Tracking My Location as Part of Their Wireless Emergency Alert System?

No, your location isn't provided, maintained, or even requested in the delivery of a Wireless Emergency Alert. WEAs are broadcasted within zones or counties determined by Authorized Senders. Any device that is compatible with WEA and that is located within a targeted zone will receive these alerts.

26. My Device Is Similar to the Device of Someone I Know Who Received a Wireless Emergency Alert: I Don’t Understand Why I Didn't Receive an Alert?

As you know, devices are released containing different versions of firmware and software. Earlier devices of the same, or similar models, may not be designed to receive the Wireless Emergency Alerts. Be assured that, if your device is compatible with WEA and you are geographically located within the targeted area for the alert at the precise time it was sent, you will receive the alert. If not, you won’t receive them. You may also not receive them if you do not have any antenna signal bars on your phone due to cellular service blockage that typically occurs inside homes, buildings, vehicles. A cell phone signal booster may be an option you may consider to address that problem.

27. Will I Receive an Alert If I’m on a Call or Using Data When a Wireless Emergency Alert Is Released?

No, you won't. If you're engaged in a data or voice session when an alert is released, you won't receive the alert. However, you should note that alerts may be rebroadcast at certain intervals in the targeted geographic locations in order to reach as many devices as possible. Once that interval has concluded, or perhaps the alerts have been superseded, the original alert will not be released again.

28. How will I receive alerts if I don't have a WEA-capable device?

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), in coordination with State and local public safety officials, sends out AMBER Wireless Emergency Alerts through IPAWS.

29. Who will send WEAs to issue AMBER Alerts?

WEA is only one of the ways you receive emergency alerts. Other sources include NOAA Weather Radio, news broadcasts, the Emergency Alert System on radio and TV programs, outdoor sirens, internet services, and other alerting methods offered by local and state public safety agencies.

30. Even if I have WEA capable phone, how can I confirm whether my carrier offers WEA in my area?

Federal Communications Commission requires all wireless phone service carriers that do not participate in WEA, to NOTIFY their customers. If you have not received or somehow overlooked such a notice or notification in any form, you must check with your wireless carrier to determine whether offers it, and if yes, an extent to which they offer WEA to their subscribers.

Participation in "Emergency Alert System" (EAS) by mobile carriers is quite widespread by major carriers covering wide swaths of areas, but it is voluntary. Therefore, some carriers are capable of offering EAS (Emergency Alert System) and can provide WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts) over all, or parts of their wireless service areas. Other carriers may not offer WEA at all. Even if you have WEA-enabled device, it is entirely possible that you will not receive WEAs in a service area where your provider is not offering WEA. Also consider the fact that you would not receive WEA if you travel, and your device happens to be roaming on a different provider's network that does not support the WEA service. Consumers must check with their wireless carrier to determine the extent to which it offers WEA.

To help you with this task, we have compiled a list of carriers below that are participating in WEA service. The carrier names shown below, link to the respective website page that provides information about their WEA program. It provides details of an extent to which they participate to provide WEA to their subscribers. If your provider is not listed, it is most likely currently working to make alerts available for its customers in the near future.

 

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