Wireless service providers must join the National Public Alerting System

News Release

April 6, 2017 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today directed all wireless service providers to implement a wireless public alerting system on their LTE (long-term evolution) networks by April, 2018.

This system will allow emergency management officials, such as fire marshals and police agencies, to warn Canadians on their mobile devices of dangers to life and property. The alerts will be sent to mobile devices connected to LTE networks, which are available to over 97% of Canadians.

Service providers have also been tasked by the CRTC to work with their federal, provincial and territorial counterparts to develop an awareness campaign and test schedule.


Quotes

“The Commission is working with the wireless industry and our partners in federal, provincial and territorial governments to provide Canadians with a reliable and efficient wireless public alerting system, as soon as possible. The National Public Alerting System is vital to Canadians, it has saved countless lives, including those of children through Amber Alerts. Once the system is in place, an even greater number of Canadians will receive alerts on their mobile phones and will be able to take appropriate safety measures.”

- Jean-Pierre Blais, CRTC Chairman and CEO.

Quick Facts

  • Emergency alert messages are issued by federal, provincial and territorial governments and emergency management officials to warn the public of imminent threats, such as fires, tornadoes, floods, water contamination and Amber Alerts.

  • Once the system is in place, an even greater number of Canadians will be notified in a timely manner of imminent or unfolding dangers through alerts sent via mobile networks.

  • In 2015, more than 82% of Canadians owned a mobile device, representing nearly 30 million wireless subscribers.

  • In 2014, the CRTC’s Interconnection Steering Committee Network Technology Working Group, which included wireless service providers, assisted in the development of technical requirements for a wireless public alerting service in Canada.

  • In August 2015, the Canadian standard on the Wireless Public Alerting System was approved by Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions.

  • Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science, through the Canadian Safety and Security Program, initiated a pilot project between April 1 and September 30, 2016, in the Durham Region of Ontario to build, test and operate an effective wireless public alerting service.

  • The CRTC’s Interconnection Steering Committee Network Technology Working Group must report back to the Commission with a progress report by July 5, 2017, and a final report by October, 3, 2017, detailing a proposed awareness campaign and test schedule.

  • The exact launch date for the distribution of alerts will be announced once the wireless industry has met the applicable standards and all required functionalities are in place.

  • Once alerts are distributed to mobile devices, Canadians will hear the same alert tone as they currently do while listening to the radio or watching television. Alerts on mobile devices will also trigger a unique vibration cadence when an alert is issued, and will contain a bilingual banner.

  • The wireless public alerting standard adopted by Canada has been adopted by governments across the world for emergency alerts services, including the European Union, the United States of America, Israel, Chile and Japan.

  • Canadian broadcasters and television service providers have distributed emergency alerts since 2014. As a result, the vast majority of Canadians currently receive emergency alerts through radio and television.

  • The CRTC created an interactive map identifying which Canadian radio and television stations distribute alert messages; a list of cable and satellite companies that distribute these messages is also included.

  • Public Safety Canada is the lead department responsible for emergency management and coordinates the development of policies for public alerting with federal, provincial and territorial stakeholders.

  • The CRTC’s regulatory action announced today followed a public consultation initiated in 2016.

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