AT&T delivers Wireless Emergency Alerts to iPhone 5, 4S

AT&T Mobility customers using iPhone 5 and 4S have begun receiving a software update that includes Wireless Emergency Alerts.

These are government-issued safety messages that include AMBER Alerts, emergency alerts – such as man-made or natural disasters, and Presidential alerts.

Wireless Emergency Alerts are part of the FCC’s CMAS program and are mandated by law. You may turn off alerts (except for Presidential alerts) if you choose. Go to Settings >Notifications>Turn On/Off.

When the software update is delivered to your phone, you will see a message that states “Carrier Settings Update: new settings required for your device have been installed.” After that, your iPhone 5 or 4S will receive all Wireless Emergency Alerts by default.

While the software update is mandatory, you are not charged for the data to deliver it and Wireless Emergency Alerts will never count against your messaging plan. The update will be sent to users with iOS 6.1 or higher. Customers on eligible hardware but not on iOS6.1.x will not receive the carrier update over-the-air. When they next update their software via iTunes, the update will include the current carrier settings.

Source: AT&T Consumer Blog

Related articles:
T-Mobile surprises customers with U.S. Presidential Emergency Alert ahead of Nov. 9 test – November 4, 2011
U.S. gov’t mandates special chip in all cellphones; users can’t opt out of presidential messages – May 11, 2011

49 Comments

      1. kingmel – The “government” (i.e., the National Weather Service) had nothing to do with the bogus tornado warnings. It was only a problem on Verizon phones.

        The WEA system needs to be reliable. It should send accurate messages during legitimate emergencies, and refrain from sending bogus warnings – or it will undermine public confidence in the system.

    1. Does anyone know how wide the net is for AMBER Alerts. I received one that was in my state, but was hundreds of miles away. I guess it could be helpful, but it didn’t seem like it at the time.

        1. This was a no opt out update and I know when danger is near. I have escaped natural and man made disasters. I don’t need a text telling me when a hurricane is approaching. I have escaped musim detention when my partners were killed. I was raised and mentored well

          1. Good for you. You are a pinnacle of strength and can stand alone. You always have the option of not upgrading your software. Just don’t push the upgrade button and remain as your own island in a sea of real people who need to work together as communities to take care of themselves and their lesser capable fellow men.

            1. Apparently, you are (you’re) almost an expert. Although you missed a space in “So are . . .” and you either don’t know the difference between: you’re and your, or you were afraid that you might miss a beat while typing with one hand and just let it go.

            2. Whatever else you might have to say on the matter, no one is able to opt out of the software update if they are running a current version of the OS on their phone.

              If I could opt out, then I’d have nothing to say about it because it was a service that I could choose to consume. The principle at issue here is whether the government has the right to decide what the citizens will get from the government or whether the citizens do. For many of us, this is an inappropriate use of governmental powers. This program was started under Bush and executed under Obama, so neither party can excuse its partisans.

            3. Reech, you’re an idiot. “I know when danger is near”, does your spidey sense let you know when you have less than 10 minutes to escape an oncoming tornado?

              And by musim, to you mean Muslim? What is musim detention? Where you held after class by a woman in a burkha?

              And what does being raised well have to do with receiving an Amber Alert. Do you think that being on the look out for an abducted child is not a function of a concerned citizenry?

  1. This will make it much easier to alert everyone when they declare martial law. Oh wait, I forgot to take off my tin foil hat.

    What a wonderful feature that AT&T and the government are bringing to the people.

    That’s better. I would not want to cause NSA any undue concern.

  2. So users can turn off weather alerts and happily get sucked into a tornado, but you can’t turn off “presidential alerts”?! Who gives a flying f*** what the president says? It’s all smoke and mirrors.

  3. Ok the good news is that my old 3G is still secure against prying government.

    And I’m sure there is no way the Govt can locate me or Brick my phone remotely in order to start a revolution.

  4. I don’t want this and if it’s unavoidable, which it seems to be, is there anyway to deconstruct it to find out what it actually does? Not that I’m worried about my privacy or anything… It should be ok to reverse engineer or decompile after all if AT&T and gov are doing nothing wrong, they’ll have nothing to hide. (Pretty sure I’ve heard that logic somewhere before…)

  5. My personal phone is an iPhone 4S from AT&T. My work phone is a galaxy from sprint. A couple weeks ago the sprint was sending me alert messages warning about a possible tornado in an area that I was working. I appreciated the alert but was actually saddened that my beloved iPhone didn’t also warn me. I don’t believe it’s an actual text message but it comes through your messaging app. I believe this is why the phones need the carrier update. Otherwise they’d need to send texts to every phone number out there. This way they can hit the panic button for a local area and if you’re in that area, you get the alert.

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