Einstein Wireless, a Wisconsin-based wireless carrier, has become the only wireless carrier in the nation to launch a cell broadcast system that will alert its subscribers to national emergencies or natural disasters. The system uses the company's GSM network, capable of transmitting emergency alerts across most of Wisconsin, as well as CellCast Technologies' notification equipment, to distribute emergency alerts via cell phone.
“Together with CellCast Technologies and with support from FEMA, we've been testing cell broadcast capability in Wisconsin and are making it available to subscribers throughout the state,” said John Altamura, president of Einstein Wireless. “This technology will reach a greater percentage of the population in a timely way, improve emergency response times and enable geographic-specific alerts — all using an advanced broadcast medium. We are looking forward to working with local universities, corporations and the community to improve emergency response times and our overall security.”
“People have relied on the entertainment vehicles of television and radio to deliver emergency alerts for more than 50 years. Meanwhile, the cell phone has emerged as an always-on communication vehicle for more than 80% of the nation's population, making it an ideal medium for delivering emergency alerts,” said Paul Klein, chief operating officer of CellCast Technologies. “We commend FEMA for piloting the use of this 21st century technology to significantly improve our nation's emergency alert systems.”
Einstein Wireless subscribers will receive relevant emergency alerts via cell broadcast upon phone set up. Subscribers can easily program their phones to receive the alerts by following the directions on the Einstein Wireless web site.
The Warnings, Alerts and Response Network (WARN) act required the federal government to expand the methods for transmitting emergency alert messages beyond audio alerts delivered on radio and TV stations. Cell broadcast technology supports the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System goal of delivering targeted and coordinated alerts and warnings over more media devices to more people, anywhere and at anytime.
Cell broadcast uses a feature already built into most cell phones that enables a government entity to simultaneously send an emergency message to large numbers of cell phones, and only to those in the specifically threatened geographical region. The alert message is transmitted over a portion of bandwidth that is minimally used in normal cell calling, therefore not subject to degradation of normal cell phone use during a public emergency situation.