WEA Comes to AT&T iPhones
Formerly known as the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. These alerts fall into one of three categories; extreme weather or other threatening local emergencies, AMBER Alerts, and Presidential Alerts during a national emergency.
AT&T announced that it is rolling out wireless emergency alerts to all of its U.S. customers that have an iPhone 5 or 4S.
The alerts are short 90-character, text-like messages that alert people with a special notification sound and message
Such alerts are critical for getting information out to people who aren’t immediately tuned into a television or radio. Even when cellular networks are overloaded and no longer support person-to-person calls, text, or emails, cell phones can receive WEA alerts.
Cell phone owners with a WEA-capable mobile device physically located in an area where an alert has been sent will have the ability to receive the alert.
To get the alerts AT&T’s iPhone users must update the phone software to version iOS 6.1 or higher. Those users with an iPhone 5 or 4S but not on iOS 6.1 or higher will get the update when they plug their device into iTunes.
For those users who don’t want to get these alerts, it’s possible to turn off some of them. In the iPhone’s settings, under notifications, users can toggle off Amber and emergency alerts. However, there’s no way to turn off the presidential alerts.
“Wireless Emergency Alerts are part of the FCC’s CMAS program and are mandated by law,” AT&T wrote in a blog post. “While the software update is mandatory, you are not charged for the data to deliver it and Wireless Emergency Alerts will never count against your messaging plan.”
We have a helpful white paper on the subject of IPAWS and how it works in connection with WEA for download.