Wireless Public Alerting Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

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”);
  • connected to a Long Term Evolution (LTE) cellular network at the time the emergency alert is issued; and
  • have special software embedded in it which allows for messages sent by your service provider, via Cell Broadcast, to be received in the standard Alert Ready format.

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:

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.

Not all consumers received an alert from their carrier on their wireless device. This could be due to compatibility, which is dependent on many factors, including the handset and the software version on the device, or whether the device was connected to an LTE network. Questions about handset alert reception are best addressed by your wireless service provider, who is responsible for pushing these alerts to their customers.

There is no sign-up or opt-in required. Emergency alerts will be automatically sent through the broadcast channels, and to your compatible wireless device.

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”);
  • connected to a Long Term Evolution (LTE) cellular network at the time the emergency alert is issued; and
  • have special software embedded in it which allows for messages sent by your service provider, via Cell Broadcast, to be received in the standard Alert Ready format.
Therefore, those rural and remote communities who do not have access to all three of these requirements will not be able to receive wireless emergency alerts. However, alerts will still be sent through the existing alerting channels (television, radio, cable, satellite and websites).

Emergency alerts are sent via Cell Broadcast distribution. Cell Broadcast is a mobile technology that allows messages to be broadcast to all compatible wireless devices within a designated geographical area. Cell Broadcast is designed for simultaneous message delivery to multiple users in a specified area, and is not affected by network congestion because it uses a dedicated part of the network, separate from that used for traditional voice and data traffic. Therefore, if you are in Manitoba in an affected area and have a compatible wireless device, you would receive the emergency alert. If you are in another Province or Territory in an affected area and have a compatible wireless device, you would receive the emergency alert for the affected area. This is a national alerting system and no matter where you are located in Canada you should receive the same standard emergency alert that will be specific to the location you are in.

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.

The emergency alert storage location is dependent on many factors and the type of handset you may have. The majority of users have the emergency alert stored as a notification on the wireless device. For example, this can be viewed again by pulling down on the top of the iPhone screen to view all current notifications until they are cleared. Other compatible devices such as androids have stored the message similar to an SMS. Questions about handset alert reception and storage are best addressed by your wireless service provider, who is responsible for pushing these alerts to their customers.

There is no sign-up or opt-in required. You cannot opt out of receiving threat-to-life emergency alerts. Emergency alerts will be automatically sent through the broadcast channels via Cell Broadcast, and to your compatible 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.

Cell broadcast sends emergency alerts to the public without affecting the network. To elaborate, cell Broadcast is a mobile technology that allows messages to be broadcast to all compatible wireless devices within a designated geographical area. Cell Broadcast is designed for simultaneous message delivery to multiple users in a specified area, and is not affected by network congestion because it uses dedicated part of the network, separate from that used for traditional voice and data traffic.

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.

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.