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Canadian Emergency Cellphone Alerts Will Be Mandatory, No Opting Out: CRTC

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By now, you may already know Canada is set to launch its wireless emergency alert system on April 6th. Canada’s wireless carriers were given one year to setup the system and many users have been receiving text messages about its impending roll out.

According to the CTV News, the CRTC recently defended its decision to make the system mandatory with no option to opt out.

CRTC spokeswoman Patricia Valladao, told the Canadian Press “People cannot opt out of this,” adding, “There is a high importance that people — want it or not — receive these alerts.”

The CRTC had the final say when it came to deciding whether the system should have an opt out option or not, despite a recent report which said most wireless carriers wanted an option to disable some alerts or entirely altogether.

Patrick Tanguy, an assistant deputy minister with Public Safety Canada, said “When you’re getting those alerts your life is at risk,” adding “So it’s not there’s potentially a danger, there is a danger.”

All levels of government are working on setting up best practices to ensure a smooth rollout, “to make sure those events don’t happen like it happened in Hawaii,” says Tanguy. He admitted the new system “is not 100 per cent bulletproof”.

Alert ready

The wireless alerts from Alert Ready will be handled by the parent company of the Weather Network, Pelmorex Corp., headquartered in Oakville, Ontario. Test alerts will be sent out in early May to ready wireless users to the new system.

According to Paul Temple, senior vice-president of regulatory and strategic affairs at Pelmorex, “People should hopefully be familiar with that sound by the time they get an actual emergency message.” He added with the popularity of smartphones “it’s just another way to reach people quickly when their life is possibly in danger,” instead of just radio and TV.

Last fall Pelmorex acquired a mobile advertising company to boost their monetization efforts within their app, The Weather Network, which harnesses user location for targeted ads.

There are requirements for Canadians to be part of this new wireless alerts system. Users must have an LTE device that supports wireless public alerting (WPA) and also be connected to an LTE cellular network at the time an alert is sent.

For iPhone owners, this means if you have an iPhone 5 or newer, your device will support this new emergency alert system.

For users with older phones using 3G data or only have Wi-Fi connectivity, the free iOS app Alertable can send you alerts, as it is linked to Canada’s Alert Ready system.

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