The Federal Communications Commission wants a nationwide alert system to use cell phones or other mobile devices to send text messages to Americans when an emergency occurs.
According to CNN, cell phone companies that voluntarily opt into the system would send text-based alert messages to subscribers in response to three types of events:
- A disaster that could jeopardize the health and safety of Americans, such as a terrorist attack; these would trigger a national alert from the president of the United States.
- Imminent or ongoing threats such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes.
- Child abductions or Amber alerts.
T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint Nextel and AT&T all stated that they would be likely to opt into the alert system if it is passed by the FCC.
A federal agency, yet to be appointed, would create the messages and information that would go to the participating cell phone companies, the FCC representative said. Once that agency is named, all carriers who opt into the system will have to meet the requirements of the system within 10 months.
Subscribers would be able to opt out of receiving the messages, according to the current plan, and carriers would be required to provide vibration or audio attention signals with a distinct sound for people with disabilities.