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AT&T now pushing iPhone update to add Wireless Emergency Alert

updated 11:00 pm EDT, Fri June 14, 2013

Subscribers can opt to receive AMBER and emergency push notices

An FCC mandate for a Wireless Emergency Alert system implemented on mobile devices is now being delivered to iPhones by AT&T, the country's second-largest carrier. The government-issued messages will appear in a manner similar to text messages, reports AppleInsider, but are actually delivered by a different and faster system (at no charge to the user). They will include mandatory Presidential alerts (issued by the White House), and the option to receive Imminent Threat alerts and AMBER alerts.

The carrier notes that customers not on iOS 6.1 or later (a small percentage of the customer base, according to Apple) will not receive the carrier update over the air, but will get it when the user next updates their software via iTunes. So far, reports indicate that owners of the iPhone 4, 4S and 5 are now receiving the updates. Users can turn off the AMBER alerts (which come from law enforcement and assist in locating missing or abducted children), as well as the Imminent Threat alerts (which cover things such as severe man-made or natural disasters where there is risk of severe property damage or loss of life).

Users will receive a short message that informs them that the Carrier Settings have been updated. By default, the message alerts will be turned on, and the program is part of an FCC initiative called CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alert System) and required by law. The alert program has actually been active on WEA-capable mobile devices since April of last year.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jameshays

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-10-03

    That's awesome!! Now, when the president feels I need to agree with him or he needs to promote something he has forced access to my cell phone. I haven't seen any part of the regulation that says what his limits are in sending us messages. Gosh, what can be the harm with that... Who are the people that pass these things...

  1. Hillbilly Geek

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-22-06

    jameshays: agreed. Of course, when he declares war on those pesky lutheran terrorists, it'll be good to have a heads up ;-/

  1. Mr. Strat

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 01-23-02

    I wondered what that was when it came across my phone yesterday.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    jamesshays: you're being just a bit childish, don't you think? You know perfectly well that Presidential alerts are not for things like "I'm going on vacation" or "tell your congressperson to vote for my plan" -- it's for serious national emergencies ONLY, like terrorist attacks or major natural disasters. Also you're not charged for the alerts, of course. Count yourself lucky that you live in a country where such an alert is so rarely needed.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 01-23-02

    And it's a damned good thing we're not charged for the Narcissistic Community Organizer's vacation alerts.

  1. Drunken Economist

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-11-09

    Anybody who says 'This won't be abused' has not been paying attention.

    PATRIOT Act(s), put in by Bush, abused in spades by Obama.

    This dumbfuckery, put in by Obama's FCC, will probably be ABUSED IN SPADES by President Jeb Bush.

  1. Useless Message Poster

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-08-10

    Ya - the president will obviously send frivolous and campaign related messages - just like he does today on the Emergency Alert System. Get the tinfoil out of your hat.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    Eh, I have a 3Gs model, so I won't be getting these things soon. ;)

    What really ticks me off is the brain dead "Opt out" deployment. If I want it, I'll opt in, thank you. Don't sign me up unless I explicitly request it!
    I blame marketing people for this crap.

    On the other hand, no one is forcing you to read the notifications either. :P

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