A text message from Telus is seen on a smart phone in Toronto on Friday, May 4, 2018. Mobile devices across Canada will be buzzing a little more than usual this week as emergency management officials test the new nationwide public alerting system. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

B.C. and Alberta cellphones will light up Wednesday with emergency test signal

Mobile devices across Canada will be buzzing a little more than usual this week as emergency management officials test the new nationwide public alerting system.

Mobile devices across Canada will be buzzing a little more than usual this week as emergency management officials test a new national public alert system.

Test signals are to be sent to millions of mobile users in Quebec around mid-morning today and across Ontario in mid-afternoon.

Cellphones, tablets and other devices will receive the signal in most of the rest of the country on Wednesday.

Depending on settings, users with compatible devices connected to an LTE network will hear a tone similar to an ambulance alarm or feel a vibration for eight seconds. Devices that are turned off won’t receive the signal but phone users will hear their conversations interrupted by a sound similar to a call waiting tone.

The tests are being conducted after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ordered wireless providers to implement the system to distribute warnings of imminent safety threats such as tornadoes, floods, Amber Alerts or terrorist threats.

Radio and TV stations will also run the tests.

Related: Here’s how Canada’s national public alert system will work

RELATED: New alert system fails first test in Canada

A similar system is already used in the U.S., and made headlines earlier this year when an emergency official in Hawaii mistakenly sent an alert about a potential incoming ballistic missile.

A report issued last month by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said the false alarm, which went uncorrected for 38 minutes after being transmitted and caused widespread panic across the Pacific islands state, was a result of human error and inadequate safeguards.

“The CRTC has no insights with respect to what occurred in Hawaii, other than what has been reported in the media,” the regulator said.

“But Canada has safeguards in place” to prevent false signals from being distributed to mobile devices, said CRTC spokeswoman Patricia Valladao.

Unlike wireless emergency alerts issued in the U.S., Canada’s system requires a specific vibration cadence, alert tone and banner to notify users of an emergency.

As well, the emergency alerts are not text, or SMS, messages, but are distributed using what’s known as cell broadcast technology. The messages can’t be tracked by service providers so they can’t tell who has or has not received the alert, the CRTC said.

Some Canadian service providers sent text messages to subscribers last week alerting them to the tests, which are mandatory and may require users to acknowledge a message before they can resume normal use of their devices.

Related: No opting out: Canadians to get emergency alerts on their phones

Related: Canadians to get emergency alerts on their cellphones

Here are the scheduled times for the tests. All times are local:

Monday

  • Quebec 9:55 AM
  • Ontario 1:55 PM

Wednesday

  • Yukon 1:30 PM
  • Northwest Territories 1:55 PM
  • Alberta 1:55 PM
  • British-Colombia 1:55 PM
  • Saskatchewan 1:55 PM
  • Manitoba 1:55 PM
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 1:55 PM
  • Nova Scotia 1:55 PM
  • Prince Edward Island 1:55 PM
  • New-Brunswick 6:55 PM

Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

LETTER: Keep commercial fishery issues in correct context

Response to letter from Prince Rupert-based commercial fish harvester

Heart of Our City: Sean Carlson gives back as a trailblazer

President of the Kaien Island Trail Enhancement and Recreation Society helps Rupertites get on trail

MVP of the Week: Giving team a try

Lindsay Gidney has taken his passion for team and sport with him around the world

Former Prince Rupert man wanted on kidnapping and extortion warrants

Terrace RCMP requesting public’s help to find Ira Adam Bryant

This Week Podcast — Episode 85

Learn how you could create your own law. MP Nathan Cullen is this week’s guest on Create Your Canada

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Searchers for Vancouver Island father turn focus to Cowichan River

Cowichan SAR joined by many other SAR groups, volunteers now determined to find missing man

Most Read