CRTC to protect more Canadians with wireless alerts

News release

Mandatory distribution of emergency alert messages on mobile devices to start on April 6, 2018

March 29, 2018 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

The CRTC today acted to enhance Canadians’ access to potentially life-saving information during an emergency situation. As of April 6, 2018, all wireless service providers must distribute wireless public emergency alert messages on their LTE (long-term evolution) networks.

Wireless emergency alerts will inform Canadians about imminent dangers to life and property. The alerts, which can be targeted to a specific area, will be sent to mobile devices connected to LTE networks. This will enhance the emergency alerts that Canadians already receive via their radios and televisions.

Wireless service providers will conduct a nationwide public alerting test during Emergency Preparedness Week, which is from May 6 to 12. This will be an opportunity for Canadians to become familiar with how public alert messages will be delivered to their mobile devices, including the tone and vibration cadence that will distinguish them from regular text messages.

To learn more about wireless alerts, please visit Alert Ready.

Quotes

“Nothing is more important than making sure Canadians are informed in a timely matter about an imminent danger such as a tornado, wildfire or Amber Alert when a child’s life is in grave danger. Mandatory distribution of public emergency alert messages on mobile devices will help do just that. Along with the wireless industry and our partners in federal, provincial and territorial governments, the CRTC has worked to provide Canadians with the emergency system they need to take appropriate safety measures if need be.”

Ian Scott, CRTC Chairperson 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.

  • Long-term evolution (LTE) networks are available to more than 98.5% of Canadians.

  • 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, and will include the information Canadians needs for any action they should take.

  • To find out if a cellphone is capable of receiving emergency alerts, Canadians can visit Alert Ready.

  • 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 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.

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