Wireless Public Alerting Frequently Asked Questions

What is Wireless Public Alerting (WPA)?

WPA is sending a Broadcast Immediate (BI) alert to compatible wireless devices through the Alert Ready system. These BI alerts would be the same as those alerts issued by television, radio, cable, satellite and websites during emergencies, but are available via your compatible wireless device.

When does WPA come into effect?

Beginning April 6, 2018, wireless service providers (WSPs) will be capable of issuing BI alerts to compatible wireless devices when received from alerting authorities. The BI alerts on wireless devices will warn the public about the danger to life safety and property and how to take appropriate action.

How do I know if my wireless device is compatible to receive alerts?

In order for emergency alerts to be received on a wireless device, three conditions must be met. The wireless device must be:

  • An LTE smartphone (LTE is commonly referred to as “4G LTE”);
  • Wireless public alerting (WPA)-compatible; and
  • Connected to a Long Term Evolution (LTE) cellular network at the time the emergency alert is issued.

You can check with your provider to find out whether you are on an LTE network and have a compatible device, or visit Alert Ready for more information on compatible devices. The following are the Manitoba wireless service providers:

Is WPA included in the test schedule?

Manitoba will conduct yearly testing of the mobile alerting capabilities. The first test of the WPA system in Manitoba will be on May 9, 2018 at 1:55 p.m. during National Emergency Preparedness Week.

What will a WPA look and sound like on my wireless device?

On compatible wireless devices, the emergency alert will begin with a distinct sound and known as the Canadian Alert Attention Signal. Hear the Alert Attention Signal.

The device will also vibrate and then the visual Emergency Alert banner will display, followed by a wireless public alert message text.

Will I receive a wireless public alert if the location feature is turned off on my wireless device?

Yes, wireless public alerting does not require the location feature to be turned on. As soon as a compatible wireless device is in range of the cell tower where a BI alert is in effect, the alert will be sent to the compatible wireless device.

Will an alert override my preset phone settings?

No, currently phone settings will be respected. Under normal circumstances, the alert tone and vibration will be activated on receipt of the BI alert. However, if the phone is set to silent, then the alert would be displayed but there would be no tone or vibration.

What happens if I receive a WPA while driving?

If you receive an emergency alert while operating a vehicle, it is important to remain calm and safely pull off the roadway at your earliest opportunity to view the emergency alert. In Manitoba, it is prohibited to use hand-held electronic communication devices such as smart phones and cell phones while driving. Visit Manitoba Infrastructure or Manitoba Public Insurance to find more information on the law, penalties, and the dangers of distracted driving.

Where can I learn more about WPA?

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