Why you didn’t get a presidential alert on your phone when everybody else did

Yesterday, October 3rd, many American smartphone users were startled by a “presidential alert” from the White House. And some of you may have already known it was coming, because President Trump (or, more accurately, FEMA) alerted Americans that a test alert would happen at 2:18 p.m. EST. But if you didn’t receive the Wireless Emergency Alert system text, there’s no need to panic.

As WIRED writes, citizens on many different carrier services, with both new and old phones of varying brands, reported not getting the text—so it didn’t apply to any one specific group of phone users. And this is actually what yesterday’s test was all about—FEMA and the FCC are trying to work out the kinks in their nationwide alert system.

Government agencies and service providers can now go back to the drawing board to make sure every citizen remains safe and informed in the event of an emergency.

The actual reason behind you not receiving a WEA depends on your cellphone situation. You may have been out of range of a cell tower during the test time. Or, your phone was off or in Airplane mode. You may even have a non-WEA-compatible phone or use a service provider that doesn’t take part in the WEA system, according to WIRED.

If you didn’t receive a text and you know you were in range of a cell tower, call your carrier to see if your phone or your service runs WEAs. Some carriers do participate but only offer the compatibility on specific devices.

Furthermore, a FEMA spokesperson told WIRED that all major carriers reported they had received yesterday’s WEA and successfully sent it out to their customers. If it didn’t reach your phone, it most likely has to do with your carrier and that carrier’s delivery rather than FEMA and/or the FCC.

"A very important reason to test, and why we initiated it to test locally, state-level, and then ultimately testing at the presidential level, is to discover the actual results versus what should happen theoretically," David Simpson, former chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, told WIRED.

FEMA asks that citizens who did not get the alert, or got the alert several times, send an email to [email protected].

State your phone’s make and model, your carrier, your phone’s location 30 minutes after the test, whether others around you got the message, and whether you were using your phone at the time of alert.

Thankfully, the October 3rd alert was only a test, which means that those of us who didn’t receive the text didn’t miss out on an alert about an actual emergency. Needing an official alert is a scary thing to think about, but we’re glad officials are working to keep us safe.

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