Trump administration to send U.S. cellphones a test alert on Thursday

The alert will look like a text

Next Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will do its first test of a system that allows the president to send a message to most US cellphones. But it won't be a political message or attack on one of his perceived enemies-or at least, it's not supposed to be.

The message will have a header that says "Presidential Alert" and text that says: "This is a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System".

If you can't remember this happening before-you're correct. Wireless Emergency Alerts do not require users to "opt-in", and most mobile phones in use today can receive the 90-character text-like messages.

The test alert will be delivered straight to your phone around 1:18 p.m. central time.

UCLA communications professor Tim Groeling stated by email to the news agency that alert systems under multiple presidents have existed for decades and remained impartial in that time.

The national test of the presidential alerts will use the same tone and vibration associated with other WEA alerts such as tornado warnings or AMBER Alerts. It is the system's first nationwide test in which users can not opt out. "No action is needed".

"Users may opt of receiving alerts in the imminent threat and AMBER categories but can not opt out of receiving Presidential alerts", FEMA said.

The test will go out to participating wireless phone company customers whose phones are turned on and within range of an active cell tower.

The wireless emergency alerts (WEA) system was authorized by Congress in 2015 under a law that states the "system shall not be used to transmit a message that does not relate to a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster or threat to public safety".

"THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System". The well-worn emergency alert system reaches mainly radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers.

An EAS message will also be sent out at the same time.

In its news release, FEMA said it could postpone the national test to October 3 if the agency is dealing with a major weather event, but it has not yet made that determination.



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