updated 09:40 am EDT, Fri November 4, 2011
FEMA, T-Mobile show presidential alert system
T-Mobile triggered a minor concern on Friday morning after it tested the Presidential Emergency Alert system early. Those on the network have reported getting a sudden message. Lance Ulanoff, using an HTC Radar 4G with Windows Phone, saw it badged as a "Presidential Alert" with a test flag, but it also included a "weird siren-like sound," he said, hinting that it was the hard-coded special feature.
The test comes five days before a national test of the alerts, which ties into the FEMA-backed Emergency Alert System. The agency plans to send out a test across most formats on November 9 at 2PM Eastern. Although FEMA hasn't mentioned cellphones by name, the test is expected to include them for the first time.
FCC officials have hoped to have a location-aware link to EAS, the Personal Localized Alert Network, active in New York City and Washington, DC before the end of 2011. The whole network should be ready by April 2012, it said. Not every phone will necessarily flag the alerts, but certain iPhone firmware and now Windows Phone 7.5 are at least expected to carry the alerts.
PLAN in particular was designed to give the government a way of warning the public about imminent emergencies, such as a terrorist attack or a short-notice natural disaster, while having the option of targeting just an individual area. It's also expected to be a way of giving help in the immediate wake of an event as long as the cellular network is still standing.