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Do you have a wireless public alert capable phone?

Do you have a wireless public alert capable phone? 

On Wednesday, November 28 at 1:55 p.m. EST, government agencies across Canada will send a message to compatible wireless devices, as well as TV and radio. CWTA is encouraging Canadians to check their devices to ensure that it is compatible to receive such alerts.

“Alert Ready is designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians, and this test will help educate Canadians on what an emergency alert will look and sound like in the event of a life-threatening situation,” said CWTA President and CEO Robert Ghiz.

More than 100 emergency alerts have been issued since the launch of the wireless alert system in April of this year. The most critical ones were about the tornadoes that touched down in Ottawa and Gatineau on September 21.

“Testing the system allows us to ensure it is working as intended and to learn what areas need adjustments so that we can be better prepared for the next real emergency,” a press release from CWTA stated.

“Emergency alerts that people receive on their wireless devices begin with a distinct sound, known as the Canadian Alerting Attention Signal, and will also vibrate,” said Ghiz. “The sound will generally play at the volume your device is set to and, depending on your device, can override all of your settings. Most devices have multiple setting controls for different features such as ringtones, media, notifications and system alerts.”

However, according to CWTA, not every wireless device will necessarily receive the alert.

“There are a number of reasons why a person’s device might not receive the alert,” said Ghiz. “Everything from device compatibility, connection to an LTE network at the time of the alert, and device software and settings can have an impact on whether or not the alert comes through. As important first steps, Canadians are encouraged to check their device compatibility on their wireless service provider’s website, and ensure that their device has the latest software update installed.”

Eric Jacksch, a security expert, experienced this firsthand during the tornadoes in Ottawa. Check out his piece on some of the reasons why you will not receive an alert.

For life-threatening situations, the federal, provincial and territorial governments will make the call to determine what emergency alert will be issued, and to what area(s). Wireless service providers are last-mile distributors and have no control to define, manage or interfere with the content or timing of the alerts.

To ensure that all devices are compatible to receive alerts, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) requires that 50 per cent of new devices available for sale in Canada must be equipped to work with Alert Ready. Starting in April 2019, this requirement will increase to 100 per cent.

If you would like to know if your device will receive wireless public alerts, please visit your provider’s website, or you can learn more by going to

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