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Nationwide Emergency Test: Test Messages Sent to Cell Phones, TV and Radio

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FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018.

The WEA portion of the test, which will be sent to consumer cell phones, will begin at 2:18 p.m. EDT. The EAS portion of the test, which will be sent to radio and television, will follow at 2:20 p.m. EDT.  This will be the fourth nationwide EAS test and the first nationwide WEA test. In light of the upcoming test, the agencies share the following key informational points:

The Basics

• WHY: The purpose of the test is to ensure that EAS and WEA are both effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level. Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems helps to assess the operational readiness of alerting infrastructure and to identify any needed technological and administrative improvements.

• HOW: The EAS and WEA test messages will be sent using FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), a centralized Internet-based system administered by FEMA that enables authorities to send authenticated emergency messages to the public through multiple communications networks.

• WHO: FEMA will administer the test, in cooperation with the FCC and the National Weather Service, and with the participation of the communications industry.

• WHEN: October 3, 2018, beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT on cell phones and 2:20 p.m. EDT on TV and radio. (This is the test back-up date; the test was previously postponed due to response efforts to Hurricane Florence.)

Nationwide Alert Test to Cell Phones

• THE WIRELESS ALERT TEST MESSAGE: The WEA test message will appear on consumers’ phones and read, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”  Phones will display this national test using the header “Presidential Alert.”  These nationwide alerts, established pursuant to the WARN Act of 2006, are meant for use in a national emergency and are the only type of alert that can be sent simultaneously nationwide by FEMA.

• RECIPIENTS: Many members of the public will receive the WEA test message on their cell phones. Specifically, beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT, cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, WEA-compatible wireless phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA,

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