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Canada Mandates Alerting Over LTE Networks

OTTAWA and GATINEAU, QUEBEC, CANADA—The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission today directed all wireless service providers to implement a wireless public alerting system on their LTE networks by April, 2018.

This system will allow emergency management officials, such as fire marshals and police agencies, to warn Canadians on their mobile devices of dangers to life and property. The alerts will be sent to mobile devices connected to LTE networks, which are available to over 97 percent of Canadians, the CRTC said. Service providers have also been tasked by the CRTC to work with their federal, provincial and territorial counterparts to develop an awareness campaign and test schedule.

In Canada, as in the United States, emergency alert messages are issued by federal, provincial and territorial governments and emergency management officials to warn the public of imminent threats, such as fires, tornadoes, floods, water contamination and Amber Alerts. The CRTC has been working with wireless providers since 2014 on the development and implementation of emergency alerting technical requirements. A standard was approved in August of 2015. Pilot projects based on the standard were conducted last year. A progress report is due to the CRTC in July, with a final report coming in Oct. 3, 2017, “detailing a proposed awareness campaign and test schedule.”

The exact launch date for the distribution of alerts will be announced once the wireless industry has met the applicable standards and all required functionalities are in place. Once alerts are distributed to mobile devices, Canadians will hear the same alert tone as they currently do while listening to the radio or watching television. Alerts on mobile devices will also trigger a unique vibration cadence when an alert is issued, and will contain a bilingual banner.

The wireless public alerting standard adopted by Canada has been adopted by governments across the world for emergency alerts services, including the European Union, the United States, Israel, Chile and Japan.

Canadian broadcasters and television service providers have distributed emergency alerts since 2014. As a result, the vast majority of Canadians currently receive emergency alerts through radio and television. The CRTC created an interactive map identifying which Canadian radio and television stations distribute alert messages; a list of cable and satellite companies that distribute these messages is also included.

Public Safety Canada is the lead department responsible for emergency management and coordinates the development of policies for public alerting with federal, provincial and territorial stakeholders.