FCC, FEMA to test 'Wireless Emergency Alert' system on Wednesday

FEMA to test emergency alert system Wednesday

Most US cell phones to receive 'Presidential Alert' text on Wednesday

Nearly every active cellphone will get the message at the same time on Wednesday.

Plaintiffs compare the alert system to "hijacking private property for the objective of planting a Government-controlled loudspeaker in the home and on the person of every American".

Expect phones across the country to be simultaneously alerted just before 1:20 p.m. on Wednesday, when federal officials conduct the first-ever test of the country's emergency communications system with a presidential alert.

The national test will use the same special ringtone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Under the 2006 law establishing the wireless-alert system, Congress allowed participating carriers to let subscribers block any emergency alerts - except for those issued by the sitting US president. "No action is needed", officials said.

Cell phones must be turned on and within range of an active cell tower to receive the test message, and some phones may not receive the message at all.

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The message Wednesday will read "Presidential Alert: This is a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System".

The test is meant to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.

The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones that are connected to wireless providers participating in WEA.

The test originally had been scheduled for September 20, but was postponed to Wednesday, its backup date, because of Hurrican Florence.

Johnson said the system will be used to notify USA citizens of certain events of "national significance".

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