The messages are different than text messages.
"Presidential Alerts are to be used during a national emergency, though none have been sent to date", FEMA said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on October 3, 2018.
In its news release, FEMA said it could postpone the national test to October 3 if the agency is dealing with a major weather event, but it has not yet made that determination.
In preparation for the national test all EAS Participants were required to file their Form 1 with the FCC by August 27.
More than 100 wireless providers will carry the WEA message will feature a header that reads "Presidential Alert". "No action is needed".
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The presidential alert is one of three kinds of alerts in the FEMA's WEA system, which also notifies the public about extreme weather or missing children, also known as AMBER alerts. As the title suggests, this is not a case of political pandering, but a test of a nationwide public alert system.
The agency, already grappling with the effects of Tropical Storm Florence, could delay the test of the alert system to October 3 if there's a major weather disruption, but FEMA said Saturday that Thursday's test was still on. During this time, cell phones that are switched on and within range of an active cell tower should be capable of receiving the test message. It said cell phones should only receive the message once.
Tests of the EAS will result in alerts appearing on televisions and radios, similar to the monthly civil defense alerts that sent out.
The administration will send a test alert via radio and television broadcasters two minutes after the cell phone alert. The Presidential Alert works in the same way, appearing on a phone as a message with an important piece of information.