FEMA and FCC Plan Nationwide Emergency Alert Test

In coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, FEMA will conduct a nationwide test to assess the capabilities of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert at 2:20 p.m. ET on Aug. 11 with a backup date of Aug. 25.

This is the sixth national Emergency Alert System test and the second national Wireless Emergency Alert test. This time, however, the wireless portion of the test will be directed only to those cellphones where the subscriber has opted-in to receive emergency alert test messages. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are needed.

Both portions of this nationwide test will be sent through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, the nation’s modern alert and warning infrastructure that automatically authenticates alerts. The test is intended to ensure public safety officials have the methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster.

Cell towers will broadcast the wireless test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, cell phones that have opted-in to receive Wireless Emergency Alert test messages, are switched on, within range of an active cell tower and configured to receive emergency alert test messages should receive that message. Phones should receive the message once, reading, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Phones set to Spanish will receive a translated message. Wireless Emergency Alerts are accompanied by a unique tone and vibration. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration.

The Emergency Alert System test is made available to Emergency Alert System participants (i.e., radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers) and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. The test message will be similar to regular monthly test messages with which the public is familiar.