Tens of millions of mobile phone users have received a message and loud siren during the first national test of the government’s new public alert system.
However, many people received alarm At 2.59pm on Sunday, a minute earlier than planned, others claimed they didn’t receive anything until 10 minutes later – or nothing at all.
In Wales, the government has been accused of making “amateur” and “embarrassing” mistakes in translating alerts sent out in Welsh.
A spokesman for Mobile Nets3 said that it understands that some customers have not received the reminder.
“We are working closely with the government to understand why and ensure this does not happen when using the system,” a spokesman said.
The Cabinet Office said it would review the results of the UK-wide test, acknowledging that “a small percentage of mobile users on some networks are not receiving it”.
A UK government spokesman said: “We have effectively completed the testing of a UK-wide Emergency Alert system in the largest public communication campaign of its kind ever undertaken.
“We are working with mobile network operators to review the results and any lessons learned.”
The distinctive sound and vibration is accompanied by a message telling people that the service is designed to warn if there is a life-threatening emergency nearby.
A 10-second alert has been sent to every 4G and 5G device in the UK. People were told they didn’t have to take action and could brush the message off.
according to government guidancepeople won’t receive alerts if their phone is off or in airplane mode; if they’re connected to a 2G or 3G network; if they’re only connected to wifi; or if their phone isn’t compatible.
Ministers hope the test will get the public used to the look and sound of an alert should it need to be sent in any future crisis.
It is intended for use such as extreme weather, floods and fires.
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said “it really is the voice that can save your life”.
But critics say the alerts themselves could endanger people’s safety, including that drivers could become distracted and Victim of domestic violence who kept secret phone number.
Stadiums, theaters and cinemas are planned ahead of Sunday’s testing How to prevent interruption when it is closed.
Everything you need to know about the UK emergency siren test
How does the technology work?
Emergency alerts are broadcast via cell towers and work on all 4G and 5G phone networks.
This is different from the way the government has issued lockdown orders during the pandemic, When an SMS message is sent directly to a phone number.
That means the person who sent the alert doesn’t need your number, so you don’t need to reply to it, and you won’t get a voicemail if you miss it. Nor is location or other data collected.
It also means that alerts can be sent to tablets and smartwatches depending on their own data plan.
Anyone within range of the mast will receive the alert, and it can be tailored geographically – for example, a Manchester resident does not need an alert for life-threatening flooding in Cornwall.
How emergency alerts work in other countries
Will the alert be used frequently?
Ministers insisted the alert would only be sounded in “life-threatening” situations.
People who don’t want to be alerted will be able to opt out in their device settings, turning off their phones or putting them in airplane mode – but authorities hope many will choose to leave them on.
Governments have increasingly adopted such systems in recent years as pandemics and climate-related emergencies have increased the need for rapid and direct communication with the public.
The European Union has introduced a directive requiring member states to have telephone-based public alert systems.