Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) FAQs
Do Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) have other names?
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:
What are Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)?
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.
What should I do when I receive a WEA message?
Follow any action advised by the message. Seek more details from local media or authorities. 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.
Will I be charged for receiving alerts?
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.
Is there a way to opt out of receiving the alerts?
Subscribers may opt out of receiving AMBER and Imminent Threat alerts. You may not, however, opt out of receiving Presidential alerts.
You can manage your WEA settings through your device's menu:
- iPhone: Settings> Notifications > Government Alerts(Scroll to bottom)
- Samsung: Messages > Settings > Emergency Alert History > Settings
- Other Android: Messages > Settings > Advanced > Wireless Emergency Alerts > Settings
If I receive an alert, will the location of my phone be recorded?
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 are not even be able to determine which customers receive the alerts.
How do I know if my Cellcom device is WEA-capable?
Not all devices are WEA capable. The majority of handsets released in 2012 or later are WEA capable. In addition, newer devices have additional WEA capbilities. To check if a device is WEA capable, ask your Cellcom sales associate or click here for our current device lineup. WEA is listed on the Specifications tab.
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.
What if I travel into a threat area after a WEA message is already sent?
If you travel into a threat area after an alert is first sent, your WEA-capable device will receive the message when you enter the area.
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.
Why are Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) important to me?
Alerts received at the right time can help keep you safe during an emergency. With WEA, warnings can be sent to your mobile device when you may be in harm's way, without the need to download an app or subscribe to a service.
What types of WEA messages will the National Weather Service (NWS) send?
- Hurricane and Tsunami Warnings
- Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings
- Typhoon, Dust Storm, Extreme Wind, Storm Surge, and Snow Squall Warnings
What are AMBER Alerts?
AMBER Alerts are urgent bulletins issued in the most serious child-abduction cases. The America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert Program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry.
How will I know the difference between WEA and a regular text message?
WEA messages include a special tone and vibration, both repeated twice.
What does a WEA message look like?
WEA will look like a text message. The WEA message will show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert. The message will be no more than 360 characters.
Who will send WEAs to issue AMBER Alerts?
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), in coordination with State and local public safety officials, sends out AMBER Wireless Emergency Alerts through IPAWS.
If, during an emergency, I can't make or receive calls or text messages due to network congestion, will I still be able to recieve a WEA message?
Yes, WEA messages are not affected by network congestion.
How often willl I receive WEA messages?
You may get very few WEA messages, or you may receive frequent messages when conditions change during an emergency. The number of messages depends on the number of imminent threats to life or property in your area.
In rare instances you may receive duplicate WEA messags when your phone is bouncing between different wireless networks. If you experience this issue, please report it to Cellcom's Customer Care department here.
When will I start receiving WEA messages?
It depends. WEA capabilities were available beginning in April 2012, but some mobile devices, especially older ones, are not WEA-capable. When you buy a new mobile device, it probably will be able to receive WEA messages.
What types of alerts will I receive?
- Imminent Threat Alerts that include extreme weather, and other threatening emergencies in your area
- Public Safety Alerts that are less severe in nature than Imminent Threat Alerts
- AMBER Alerts
- Presidential Alerts during a national emergency
- Test Messages that are opt in message to support state and local WEA testing
How will I receive alerts if I don't have a WEA-capable device?
WEA is only one of the ways you receive emergency alerts. Other sources include NOAA Weather Radio, news broadcasts, the Emergency Alert System on radio and TV programs, outdoor sirens, internet services, and other alerting methods offered by local and state public safety agencies.
Will I receive WEA alerts if I have enabled Airplane Mode or my device is showing No Service?
No, your device must have a connection to a cellular network in order to receive WEA alerts.
What is the difference between WEA 1.0, 2.0 & 3.0?
There are 3 generations of WEA alerts:
- WEA 1.0 — Allows for a maximum of 90 characters.
- WEA 2.0 — Allows for a maximum of 360 characters. Spanish-language messages, public safety messages, alert message prioritization and consumer opt-in for receiving state/local test messages are also supported.
- WEA 3.0 — Offers improved geo-targeting to help focus on areas more affected by an emergency. To benefit from improved geo-targeting, you may need to turn on location services in your device's settings.
You can find out which version your device supports by selecting your device here and reviewing the Specifications tab.