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

Mounties delayed crash clean-up, Tuesday traffic into Kelowna backed up for hours

A Tuesday traffic jam is being attributed to RCMP keeping lanes closed for a scene analysis

Central Okanagan School Board defends SOGI 123 initiative

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity inclusivity program sparks emotional debate

Wildfire sparks near perimeter of devastating 2017 Elephant Hill fire

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

UPDATE: Rutland residents forced from home due to late night fire

Rutland Road South has been blocked off at Highway 33 while crews work to douse a fire

Okanagan Regional Library names new CEO

Don Nettleton, who has been with ORL for 24 years, takes over from Stephanie Hall

Stranded couple rescued from Mission Creek

Rescue personnel brought two people ashore from an island after their rafts were swept away.

Olympian to lead Penticton Peach Festival parade

One of the top bobsled pilots in the world will lead the Peters Bros. Grand Parade

Two-year-old found unresponsive in pool

Mission RCMP located toddler after she went missing from a local daycare

Surrey RCMP issue warning after third sexual assault this week

It is the third sexual assault since Sunday

Toronto opening 800 emergency spaces to deal with influx of refugee claimants

Beginning Thursday, Toronto will temporarily house refugee claimants and new arrivals in 400 beds in the city’s east end.

Breaking: Trump cancels summit with North Korea

Trump cancels June 12 summit with North Korea’s Kim, citing ‘tremendous anger and open hostility’ in recent statement

Rivers rising: Floods in B.C., New Brunswick a warning of what’s to come

In B.C., thousands of residents are returning to homes this week marked with red or yellow signs indicating a health inspection is necessary

North Korea demolishes nuke test site with series of blasts

North Korea has carried out what it says is the demolition of its nuclear test site in the presence of foreign journalists.

Penticton homeless campers devastated by park cleanup

Two women, in their 50s and 60s, said they felt like giving up after their only home was cleared out

Most Read