All US Cell Phones to Receive 'Presidential' Alert Today

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The test message was originally scheduled for September but was pushed back to Wednesday at 2:18 PM EDT (2318 hours, Pakistan time).

What just happened? That odd notification you just received on your smartphone isn't reason for concern, it's simply a scheduled test of the wireless emergency alerts system.

The EAS test message is a nationwide emergency alert test that is sent out on broadcast television and radio, rather than on mobile phones.

Additional results from EAS participant station reception and broadcast of the national test message will be collected over the next month and reported later and compared against previous test results. FEMA officials said Tuesday they would share test result data on how the testing went with mobile carriers to help ensure the system works well in a true emergency.

The test will allow FEMA to assess the infrastructure needed to produce a national alert and examine whether changes will need to be made.

The system was brought into being under the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015.

The WEA portion of the test commences at 8:18 a.m. HST and the EAS portion follows at 8:20 a.m. HST. Of course, you're cutting off all communication for your phone so you won't get any calls or other messages. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving the test message.

Jennifer Mendelsohn tweeted: 'My brother just texted me "It's like an Amber alert except it's used when someone has abducted your country"'. The objective was to test the ability to distribute a national message and see if improvements are needed. Users can opt out of "emergency alerts" which means there's a way out in case they don't want to be notified in case of an emergency (but, it would be surprising if anybody would do that). The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. The WEA system was established a decade ago and became operational in 2012.

Still, a group of New Yorkers is suing in federal court saying they can't be forced to receive the alerts because they violate their right to free speech.

As they say. this was just a test. "But if it's used for good, I have no issues", student Sashwat Patra said. Mistakes like that could make people nervous about this new nationwide alert.