News Release Article from  Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Archived - CRTC encouraged by the wireless industry's progress on mobile public alerting

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June 2, 2015 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today congratulated the Canadian wireless industry for having developed specifications to deliver emergency alert messages affecting life and property to Canadians through their cellphones.

In the coming months, the wireless industry and emergency management community will test the technology and a public pilot project is planned for 2016. The new specifications will apply to mobile devices, as well as the interface between the national public alerting system and Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless networks. Mobile devices that support the specification will be able to receive and display emergency alert messages in English and French.

The specifications were developed by the Network Working Group under the CRTC’s Interconnection Steering Committee. The working group is an open forum that fosters collaboration among wireless service providers, federal, provincial and territorial alerting authorities, representatives from the national public alerting system and wireless equipment providers.

As of March 31, 2015, the vast majority of Canadians are able to receive alert messages through their radio and television services. Emergency alerts are issued by emergency management officials such as fire marshals, police officers and public health personnel. For example, alerts could be issued to warn Canadians of Amber Alerts, tornadoes, forest fires, floods, water contamination and industrial disasters.

With over 28 million wireless subscribers in Canada, the CRTC considers it critical that emergency alert messages be delivered to mobile devices, in addition to through the broadcasting system. The development of these standards moves the industry closer to this goal.

Quick facts

  • A working group has developed standards to deliver emergency alert messages to Canadians through their cellphones.
  • The new standards will be tested in the coming months and a public pilot project is planned for 2016.
  • Once implemented, compatible mobile devices will be able to receive and display emergency alerts in English and French.
  • As of March 31, 2015, the vast majority of Canadians are able to receive emergency alert messages through their radio and television services.

Quotes

“The experience in other jurisdictions has shown that mobile alerts are an efficient way to alert citizens in an emergency situation and even save lives. We are encouraged by the progress made to date, and urge all stakeholders to move as quickly as possible to make wireless public alerting a reality. Canadians carry their mobile devices with them everywhere and should have access to life-saving information as soon as it is available.”

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC

“Canadians have told us that emergency alerts on television and radio services are helpful, but that they would be more effective on mobile devices. The development of standards is an important step in ensuring that Canadians receive emergency alerts wherever they happen to be. More work needs to be done to ensure the standards will work in the real world, and we will continue to monitor this initiative.”

Peter Menzies, Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications, CRTC

Related link

How the CRTC helps protect Canadians

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