While the alerts are called WEA, the official name for this new public safety system is the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS). Some agencies may also use the name Personal Localized Alert Network (PLAN).
For further information on Wireless Emergency Alerts, go to:
Frequently Asked Questions
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are a national public safety system that delivers relevant, timely and geo-targeted alert messages to mobile devices. These messages will alert you of impending threats to safety in your area. There are three types of WEAs:
- Presidential Alerts – alerts issued by the President for local, regional or national emergencies
- Imminent Threat Alerts – notification of emergency conditions where there is imminent threat to life or property and some immediate responsive action should be taken. Imminent threat alerts are categorized as extreme or severe.
- AMBER /Child Abduction Emergency Alerts – alerts related to missing or endangered children due to an abduction or runaway situation
In order to receive WEA you must have a capable device and be located in an area (e.g. county) targeted by the authorized senders.
Wireless Emergency Alerts originate from local, state and federal emergency management officials. If you are a local government agency, see state government organizations, local government or public safety organizations for details.
The alerts will appear as a kind of text message, accompanied by a unique sound and vibration pattern, which is helpful to people with hearing or vision-related disabilities. Alerts will automatically pop-up on the device screen and are limited to 90 characters in length.
You would receive a Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) if you are within the geographical location being affected by a safety threat. You should review the information in the alert carefully and proceed as directed.
Wireless Emergency Alerts will provide the following information:
- Event type or category
- Area affected
- Recommended action
- Expiration time
- Sending agency
Due to the 90 character limit, alerts will contain only basic information. Review the information contained in the alert that you receive and follow any instructions that may be listed. To get more specific information, it is best to check with other sources of information, such as radio, TV or the National Weather Service. Authorized senders may also release updates to WEAs with further information as needed.
Note: Because these alerts are initiated by authorized senders, and not Cellcom, we do not have any information beyond what is provided in the actual message.
No, Cellcom provides Wireless Emergency Alerts at no charge to you.
If I am on a call or in a data session when a Wireless Emergency Alert is released, will I receive the alert?
No, if you are engaged in a call or in a data session when alerts are released, you will not receive the alert. Alerts will be re-sent at specific intervals in the targeted geographic location, in order to reach as many devices as possible, however, after that interval has concluded, alerts will no longer be available.
Subscribers may opt out of receiving AMBER and Imminent Threat alerts. You may not, however, opt out of receiving Presidential alerts.
To manage your preferences for specific alerts, look for the WEA setting typically titled "Emergency Alerts" on your device to select and save your preferences.
No. The technology used for Wireless Emergency Alerts is comparable to a radio broadcast. Information travels in one direction only, from the cell tower to WEA capable phones in the targeted geographical area. Carriers will not even be able to determine the number of cell phones receiving an alert.
No. To determine if the device is capable to receive alerts, go to www.cellcom.com/devices.html and choose the device you are inquiring on. In the specifications tab, there is a line that states WEA enabled. If this says Yes, the device is capable of receiving alerts.
Is there anything Cellcom can do to make my current device capable of receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts?
Special software and hardware are necessary to support WEA capabilities. Unfortunately, these changes cannot be retrofitted to older device models.
Cellcom has enabled WEA throughout our home coverage area and will broadcast to the affected areas. You may receive alerts when roaming on another carrier's network that supports WEA, but we cannot guarantee service. Remember that these alerts are geographically targeted, so if you are in Alabama and there is an alert in Wisconsin, you would not receive it.
If I block text or picture messaging from my account, will I still receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)?
Although these messages may look like a text or picture message, they do not travel over our Short Message System (SMS). Therefore, having texts blocked by Cellcom or an application should not impact the ability to receive WEA.