Monday, May 14, 2012

CMAS (Think EAS) live - your phone now more annoying with emergency alerts

Are you familiar with the annoying tone that your TV emits every week as the EAS Test (Emergency Alert System)? It's now on your phone, too! Starting tomorrow (5/16), you'll receive a 'test' of the system every 3rd Wednesday of the month at high noon. It should prove fun at office parties, funerals, wedding, and in on-air studios. The alert cannot be silenced, and the tone/volume cannot be changed (yet) - so tomorrow at noon (with compatible phones - mostly newer devices) you will hear a new and annoying sound on your phone that you can't control. The alerts are location based, so alerts could be send to a particular tower/service area when needed.

The  Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA  is responsible for receiving the alerting information and forwarding the alerts to participating wireless carriers.  Such alerts may come from the President of the United States; the National Weather Service, state or county public safety officials.  Amber Alerts are also included, and you can (supposedly) opt-out of all of them except the messages from the Commander-In-Chief aka Presidential Alerts.

The alerts *could* be useful in an emergency, however over time they will likely be overused and undervalued, and become just another annoying 'feature'. This blogger hasn't researched what will happen if you're on the phone during the alert, but hopes it isn't like TV alerts where you're locked out of anything other than the alert. First hands-on test will be tomorrow, so I'll update then. Until that happens, here's the info sent out internally:

  • FEMA, the FCC and wireless carriers have partnered to enhance public safety.

  • As a result a required monthly test of the Commercial Mobile Alerts System (CMAS) will be sent to all connected carriers.

  • Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are sent via text message at 12:00 p.m. Central time every 3rd Wednesday of the month.

  • The alerts are sent nationwide and expire after 24 hours.

  • Alerts include: This is a test of the Commercial Mobile Alert System. This is only a test.

Why you need to know it:

  • Customer may call asking about the messages and the cost; they may also want to know how to stop the messages.

  • Tell our customers:

    • The message is part of a required monthly test of Wireless Emergency Alerts.

    • Tests are conducted every month on the 3rd Wednesday.

    • It is only a test, and they can ignore the message.


  1. [...] Enabled Sprint Phones 15 05 2012 As I blogged about previously, the new Emergency Alerts System for your phone is now active. below is the list of Sprint phones that currently have WEA/CMAS [...]

  2. The EAS needs to be able to be silenced for people at work,church,funerals,etc.

  3. I agree with you 100%. I'm looking forward to the 'test' tomorrow and the results.

  4. [...] NOAA Wireless Emergency Alerts begin this month CMAS live (via insidesprintnow) HTC One X and EVO 4G LTE delayed at US customs Virgin Atlantic begins transatlantic calling China [...]