While most cellphones purchased in recent years will be LTE-capable, when and where you purchased your phone may determine whether it is able to receive emergency wireless alerts.
When Wireless Public Alerting (WPA) went live in Canada on April 6, 2018, the CRTC had mandated that at least half of devices offered by Canadian wireless service providers had to support WPA alerts. One year later, by April 2019, all devices sold by wireless service providers had to support WPA. So, if you purchased a cellphone from a Canadian wireless service provider (Bell, Telus, Rogers, etc.) after April of 2019, then you can be confident it will receive emergency wireless alerts.
However, if you purchased your phone before April 2019, or if you purchased your phone outside of Canada, then it’s not guaranteed to receive emergency wireless alerts, even if it is LTE-capable.
The reason for this is because it’s not only LTE-capability that is required to support WPA alerts in Canada. To receive WPA alerts, a wireless device must also have software installed that allows handling of messages in the WPA format sent by your wireless service provider. The older your device, the less likely it will have the necessary software. And devices from other countries may not have the required software installed, at least not by default.
You can check your specific device against your wireless service providers’ list of wireless public alerting compatible devices. If your device is not on the list, that means it hasn’t been tested by your wireless service provider, and is not guaranteed to be WPA compatible. It’s also recommended to ensure that the software on your cellphone is up to date, since outdated software may affect a device’s ability to receive an alert even if it is LTE-capable.
And finally, to help ensure you receive emergency alerts, whether your phone is WPA compatible or not, you can download the Alertable app, which works over any cellular or WiFi data connection.
Author: Evan Kirkwood
Evan is VP Mobile of Public Emergency Alerting Services Inc (PEASI) and is responsible for developing new features and capabilities for the Alertable mobile products. He is passionate about delivering enjoyable user experiences for all kinds of smart platforms including mobile, virtual assistant and messaging platforms. Evan is a Professional Scrum Master and master-level certified in User Experience (UX) by the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g).