Tbaytel, and carriers across the country, are investigating issues related to the new wireless public alerting system. Alert Ready is a new alert system mandated by the federal government to inform residents of any imminent safety threats, such as tornadoes, floods, Amber Alerts or terrorist threats.
“The system is quite new. The testing was done to identify any issues, which we have. It’s not completely unexpected that we ran into issues,” said Katie Crowe, manager of corporate brand communications for Tbaytel.
When the kinks of the system have been worked out, users with compatible devices connected to an LTE network will hear an ambulance alarm tone or feel a vibration for eight seconds. The signal will be heard if you’re mid-phone call as well. There is no charge for the alert, and it will not use any data.
The testing of the wireless public alerting system was conducted across Ontario on May 7. Tbaytel says that issues were identified, with many users not receiving the wireless alert test.
“Issues were identified by many providers across the province. The issues varied depending on the area that you were in. The number of issues are so varied that we’re not able to pinpoint one thing. Some are carrier-specific. Some are as a result of the type of alert coding that was distributed, which was the case in Quebec.”
As engineers were continuing to work on the system following the failed initial test, the OPP put out an Amber Alert on Monday afternoon, which also highlighted the issues with the new alert system. The eight-year-old boy was located safely.
“Issues experienced during the test were clearly still in place when the Amber Alert was issued. Engineers have been working on the solution since the initial test, and a solution is imminent – hopefully within the next week.”
Crowe adds that no additional tests for the system are scheduled, however, that may change.
Additionally, even when the solution is in place to fix the issues that the system has ran into, residents will have to make sure that they have up-to-date software to receive the alert.
“Users have to be connected to an LTE network, and the devices has to have up-to-date software. Ensure that your cellphone software is up to date. It ensures the security of your device, as well as helps with the alert system.”
For residents who were hoping to not receive the alerts, since the alerts are mandated by the federal government, they are out of luck.
“There is no opt-out available. The alerts are mandatory. Government regulations mandate that providers distribute these alerts, and that all capable devices receive them.”
Crowe noted that alerts are still available and active on television and radio. Those alerts started in 2015.
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New emergency alert system