Sprint to Offer Wireless Emergency Alerts (11/15/11)
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Comments

Sprint officials said the carrier will be the first U.S. service provider to offer wireless emergency alerts on its mobile network.

Wireless emergency alerts allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to accept and deliver warning messages to wireless networks from the president of the United States, the National Weather Service, and state and local emergency operations centers. Sprint customers can effectively and accurately receive warnings and safety information via text alerts to mobile phones that are equipped with the enabling software and based on geographic location.

Later this year, Sprint will conduct the first test of wireless emergency alerts in New York City, along with the New York City Office of Emergency Management, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate and FEMA. The test will deliver a series of different geographically targeted wireless alerts to multiple Sprint mobile phones strategically located in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.

The alerts are part of the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), a national program established by the FCC in response to the Warning, Alert and Response Act passed by Congress in 2006. Last November, Sprint trialed the technology with the California Emergency Management Agency and the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services. The trial tested the wireless emergency alert technology across urban, suburban and rural areas; included the involvement of law enforcement agencies, local jurisdictions and other regional partners; and assessed factors related to messaging delivery, length and recipient location.

Sprint’s customers can access wireless emergency alerts on some devices. The 90-character alerts will be delivered free to customers and have a distinctive vibration cadence and audio tone similar to what is heard for emergency alerts on broadcast television and radio. Additionally, notification of a wireless emergency alert will be distinguished in the handset’s messaging inbox with a distinctive icon.

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