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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The clock hit 2:18 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, and cell phones, all over the country, started lighting up with a “Presidential Alert.” It was the first test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system run by FEMA.
The idea is simple, it’s a system that will send a message to every cell phone in the country in the event of a national emergency. But not everyone got the message today.
In fact, some phones side-by-side got different results.
Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Boost, T-Mobile, it didn’t seem to matter. The phones receiving the message were hit and miss with those that did not.
So here is the explanation from a statement received by KDKA from FEMA:
“Only WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on and within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA will be capable of receiving the test message. Additionally, if a user is on a call, or with an active data session open on their phone, they might not have received the message.”
FEMA is trying to get to the bottom of the problem and asking for the public’s help.
FEMA invites the public to send comments on the nationwide EAS-WEA test to FEMA-National-Test@fema.dhs.gov.
Valuable information on the effectiveness of a national WEA capability using the Presidential alert category includes:
• Whether your mobile device displayed one, more or no WEA test messages;
• The make, model and operating system version of your mobile device;
• Your wireless service provider;
• Whether the device was turned on and in the same location for at least 30 minutes after the start of the test (2:18 p.m. ET);
• The location of the device (as precise as possible), including the device’s environment (e.g. indoors or outdoors, rural or urban, mobile or stationary);
• Whether you are normally able to make calls, receive texts, or use apps at that location;
• Whether the mobile device was in use at the time of the alert (for a call or a data session); and
• Whether anyone else at your location received the WEA test alert message.