Email this Page Email This Page Print this Page Print This Page
Open Chat Chat with a representative.

Wireless AMBER Alerts

Wireless AMBER Alert Program Transitioning

As a part of the nation's transition to the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program, the Wireless AMBER Alert program™ will be discontinued on December 31, 2012. The WEA program, which launched in April, not only delivers AMBER Alerts, but also Presidential and Imminent Threat Alerts to cell phone users with WEA-capable handsets.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) partnered with wireless carriers to offer WEA to supplement the existing Emergency Alert System. Consumers with WEA-capable phones and services are automatically enrolled to receive all wireless emergency alerts for free.

Cellcom is one of eight wireless carriers that chose to participate in the WEA program and our entire network was enabled to send these alerts beginning in April of 2012. When given the choice, we thought participating in the program was important for our customers and with the elimination of the Wireless AMBER Alert program, we are pleased to have another option ready for our customers.

Unlike Wireless AMBER Alerts, the WEA Alerts use the latest technology to send messages targeted by location to wireless customers with WEA-capable handsets. For example, if a Green Bay resident was visiting Chicago and a WEA AMBER Alert was issued in Chicago, the subscriber would receive the alert. At the same time, if an alert was issued in Green Bay, the subscriber would not receive it while in Chicago.

The wireless customers currently enrolled in the Wireless AMBER Alerts program will receive text messages about the transition and alternative sources for receiving AMBER Alerts.

FAQs about Wireless AMBER Alerts and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)

Why is the Wireless AMBER Alerts program ending?
As a part of the nation's transition to the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program, the Wireless AMBER Alert program™ will be discontinued on December 31, 2012. The WEA program, which launched in April, not only delivers AMBER Alerts, but also Presidential and Imminent Threat Alerts to cell phone users with WEA-capable handsets. Since AMBER Alerts are a part of this more comprehensive system, it made sense to transition fully to the WEA program.

When is the Wireless AMBER Alert program ending?
The Wireless AMBER Alerts program, which helped shape the development of WEA, will be phased out as of December 31, 2012.

Who made the decision to discontinue the Wireless AMBER Alert program?
It was a joint decision between the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Syniverse, CTIA and The Wireless Foundation, FEMA and the FCC. Wireless AMBER Alerts were an import evolution of the AMBER Alert program when they began in 2005. Wireless Emergency Alerts were implemented in April of 2012 in response to the WARN Act passed by Congress in 2006. Since AMBER Alerts are a part of this more comprehensive system, it made sense to transition fully to the WEA program.

What makes the WEA AMBER Alerts different than the Wireless AMBER Alerts?
Unlike Wireless AMBER Alerts, the WEA AMBER Alerts use the latest technology to send messages to wireless customers with WEA-capable devices in the area where a child has been abducted, even if the wireless customer isn’t from the area. For example, if a Green Bay resident was visiting Chicago and a WEA AMBER Alert was issued in Chicago, the subscriber would receive the alert. At the same time, if an alert was issued in Green Bay, the subscriber would not receive it while in Chicago.

Will I be charged for receiving alerts?
No, Cellcom provides Wireless Emergency Alerts at no charge to you.

Do I have to enroll to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts?
Users with WEA-capable devices are automatically subscribed to all types of WEA, including AMBER, Imminent Threat and Presidential alerts.

How do I know if my Cellcom device is WEA-capable?
The following Cellcom devices are currently WEA-capable: Motorola Milestone X2, LG Converse, LG Optimus Select, Motorola Milestone 3, Samsung Chrono, Samsung Freeform 4, HTC One V, iPhone 5, Motorola Razr Maxx, HTC Desire 4G LTE and Motorola Defy. Devices that have launched and are not WEA capable cannot be updated to receive these alerts. As new devices are launched, we will specify if the device is WEA capable. Going forward we expect the majority of our new devices to include this functionality.

What if my device is not WEA-capable or WEA isn’t available in my area? How can I still receive AMBER Alerts?
In addition to WEA, there are other authorized content providers for AMBER Alerts. These include AOL Alerts, Facebook AMBER Alerts, AMBER Alert Google Gadget, MySpace alerts and Yahoo! Alerts. More information on these can be found at: www.missingkids.com/ambersignup. A link to these alternative sources will be sent via text message to all those currently subscribed to Wireless AMBER Alerts.

For additional FAQs about the WEA program, click here.

History of AMBER Alerts and Wireless AMBER alerts

The Office of Justice Program's AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert Program, named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, is a voluntary partnership among law enforcement agencies, the wireless industry, transportation officials, broadcasters and other entities to activate an urgent bulletin to find abducted children. Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary is the National AMBER Alert Coordinator responsible for this national network.

Before Wireless AMBER Alerts, AMBER Alerts were issued via television, radio and Department of Transportation highway signs when a child was believed to have been abducted and in extreme danger. The wireless industry launched the Wireless AMBER Alerts program in 2005 because its members believed its technology could expand the Alerts' reach to aid in the recovery of abducted children.

Statistics show that the first three hours after an abduction are the most critical in recovery efforts, and being able to quickly engage the public in the search for an abducted child can help law enforcement bring that child home safely.