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psmith2100's profile

Contributor

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3 Messages

Monday, January 5th, 2015 12:59 AM

Is Anyone Receiving EAS Weather / Amber Alerts While Connected to a Microcell?

Is anyone receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on their phone when connected to an AT&T Microcell? 

 

There are three different types of WEA alerts:

  • Imminent threat alerts: Notify you of severe man-made or natural disasters that pose a threat to life or property.
  • AMBER alerts: Inform you about a missing child in your area.
  • Presidential alerts: Update you on important events.

More info on EAS alerts can be found here:

 

http://www.fcc.gov/guides/wireless-emergency-alerts-wea

http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?&sid=KB410692&cv=820#fbid=AC6RJmVmw5d

 

My wife got a weather alert this morning on her iPhone 6 while away from home and connected to a standard cell tower.  However, I was at home with my iPhone 5 connected to the Microcell and never received any such alert on my iPhone 5, but our NOAA Weather Radio did alert.  The below post is exactly like my situation.

 

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1603126

 

WEA alerts are very similar to the loud attention getting sound of a real NOAA Weather Radio for a tornado warning or other severe weather accompanied by a vibration.  The volume of the WEA alerts cannot be adjusted, and the iPhone Do Not Disturb feature correctly has no affect on them.  The Imminent Threat (weather, etc.) and Amber alerts can be disabled in Settings/Notifications, but mine were enabled.  Presidential alerts cannot be disabled.  We also receive the WEA alerts on our Uverse TV service.  I believe TV broadcasts are required by law to broadcast these alerts.

 

WEA alerts not working with Microcell is a HUGE problem because many people may now be relying on their phones to alert them of dangerous weather rather than buying a separate NOAA Weather Radio.  And perhaps folks received alerts in the past but have since installed a Microcell and will no longer receive severe weather alerts as expected if I am correct.

ACE - Expert

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24.5K Messages

9 years ago

That is an excellent question. Let me run this by the Admins and see what they have to say. I've disabled the alerts on my iPhone because here in Calif. we just don't have severe weather enough for me to warrant leaving them enabled so I'v never bothered to look into it.

Professor

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2.2K Messages

9 years ago

I do have CMAS enabled on my iPhone 5 with the latest iOS and I live on the Oregon coast where we do have severe enough weather (hurricane force winds) in the winter months to warrant a CMAS alert occasionally.  I have never had an alert but I don't know if one has been broadcast in my area in the past because I am connected to the Mcell while at home.

 

I'm very curious to hear what the admins find out.  It very well could be that the CMAS alerts are being sent out on the affected area's cell towers only and not on the Mcell.  This could be something that hasn't been folded into a Mcell firmware push yet.  If this is the case, then it is a serious problem for people who are connected to a Mcell while at home.

 

There are apps that will notify a smartphone user of severe weather, Amber alerts and disasters if this is the case.  Some are free, some cost money and some require an annual fee.  One thing to keep in mind is if a given state's public safety agency isn't subscribed to a particular alert app, then the app won't work as intended.

Contributor

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3 Messages

9 years ago

The apps will not wake you up like an EAS alert. I tried free and paid
apps before I found out about EAS alerts.

EAS alerts are controlled by FEMA so they cover the entire country. It is
required by law for TV broadcasters including over the air, cable,
Satellite, AT&T Uverse, etc., and most major Cell phone companies are
participating, and according to the FCC, wireless customers will get EAS
alerts anywhere they are in the country. In fact, the ATT link I posted
earlier and again below states:

http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?&sid=KB410692&cv=820#fbid=Mg5keX5VamD
As part of a national public safety system, we deliver Wireless Emergency
Alerts (WEA) to your WEA-capable wireless smartphone free of charge. These
geographically targeted emergency alerts provide important information from
authorized state and/or local agencies to your WEA-enabled smartphone.

State or local Emergency Management Agencies (EMAs) *initiate* the wireless
alerts. These EMAs register directly with the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) to use WEA to broadcast alerts."

http://www.fcc.gov/guides/wireless-emergency-alerts-wea
*What Are Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)?*
Wireless companies volunteer to participate in WEA [formerly known as the
Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS)], which is the result of a unique
public/private partnership between the FCC, FEMA and the wireless industry
to enhance public safety. *Participating wireless carriers were required
to deploy WEA by April 7, 2012*.

*Who will receive the alerts?*
Alerts are broadcast only from cell towers in the zone of an emergency. The
alerts are geographically targeted to cell towers in the location of the
emergency. Phones that are using the cell towers in the alert zone will
receive the WEA. This means that *if an alert is sent to an area in New
York, all WEA-capable phones in the alert area can receive the WEA, even if
they are phones that are roaming or visiting from another state.* In other
words, a customer visiting from Chicago would receive alerts in New York if
they have a WEA-enabled mobile device and their phone is using a cell tower
in the alert zone.

ACE - Expert

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24.5K Messages

9 years ago

What I can say at this point in time is that this has generated some discussion at AT&T. I would agree that if the current WAS is not enabled for the MicroCell that something should be done. AT&T, as other mobile carriers, do comply with the current federal regulations concering WAS and cellular notifications but I don't believe that the MicroCell falls under those regulations becuase it depends on the internet to make your cellular connections, not a tower. I'm staying on top of this.

Professor

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2.2K Messages

9 years ago

We will get information from AT&T regarding this apparent problem.  Since WEAs are only broadcast from cell towers in the emergency zone, this may be a gap in coverage that either hasn't been recognized or modifications to the Mcell network to handle WEAs are still being worked out.  Since WEA has been around for a couple of years, I'd like to think a solution is in the works.  We will post what we find out here when we know an answer.

Contributor

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3 Messages

9 years ago

Thanks for staying on top of this.  I just want to remind everyone that the MicroCell requires GPS location for E911 service, so AT&T should be able to use the MicroCell's GPS location to determine if it is in the emergency zone similar to how they know if a MacroCell (tower) is in a warning zone and be able to send WEA alerts from it.  However, I have read that WEA alerts are more like RF transmissions and are not SMS and use a completely different infrastructure than SMS to avoid congestion and to gaurantee delivery unlike SMS.  For example, I sure would hate for someone not to get a WEA SMS alert because my teenage daughter is flooding the tower with SMS messages!  Smiley Very Happy  So it may be possible that the MicroCell does not have the necessary hardware to send the WEA alerts.

ACE - Expert

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24.5K Messages

9 years ago

I'm still waiting to hear back from AT&T so that tells me that they are trying to get confirmation. My guess is that the MicroCell doesn't fall under the federal guidelines as I indicated because of its use of the internet to connect and not a local tower.

 

You are correct in that GPS data is used for E911 but there have been instances that the data for E911 is not always accurate, especially in rural areas. That's why I recommend that you never use 9-1-1 for cellular emergency calls. Quite often the 9-1-1 call is routed first to your local Highway Patrol or what ever and then on to your local 9-1-1 operator. The best way is to program the 9 or 10 digit phone number. That way the call goes directly to the local dispatcher much like a land-based call would. The downside of that is the number is area code dependent. For example, if I'm on the road in my area code and need an emergency call, I'll use the 10-digit number on speed dial. If I'm out of the area code, I'll use 9-1-1 on my cell phone. At home we have a landline so I just use 9-1-1 if I have an emergency.

ACE - Expert

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24.5K Messages

9 years ago

All that I can post officially from AT&T is: "Wireless Emergency Alerts and  Commerical Mobile Alert System are not supported on MicroCell."  

Tutor

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2 Messages

6 years ago

I want to disable the presidential alerts. They are offensive.

ACE - Expert

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24.5K Messages

6 years ago

@AndyShane - they're not from Trump. The use of the President is to get people to take notice of the message in case of a national or regional emergency.

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