UScellular® has several WEA-capable devices that support Wireless Emergency Alerts. To determine if a device is WEA-capable, review the device’s description at uscellular.com/wea.
Find more information about alerts and how the system works on the official WEA page.
There is no charge for WEA and they do not impact voice, messaging, or data usage.
There are five types of alerts:
1) National: issued by the President, the President’s designees or a FEMA Administrator. Sent to notify recipients of any national or regional communication. This is the highest priority of the alert types and cannot be withheld. *Some older devices may still display “Presidential” alerts versus “National.”
2) Imminent Threats: issued by local, state, and federal officials or government agencies. Sent to provide notification of emergencies where life or property is at risk. Imminent Threats are categorized as Extreme or Severe. 3)
AMBER or BLUE alerts: issued by law enforcement as part of the search for an abducted child or law enforcement officer whose life is in danger. 4)
Public Safety Alerts: issued by authorized local or state Emergency Managers. Sent as an essential public safety advisory that prescribes one or more actions likely to save lives and safeguard property. This alert type may include Public Safety advisory messages such as “shelter in place” or “boil water” warnings and is less severe than imminent threat alerts. 5)
Opt-in Test Messages: issued by state and local alerting officials to conduct end-to-end WEA tests to the public. Consumers will not receive State/Local WEA Tests by default; instead, they must affirmatively Opt-in to receive these test messages. The test messages will differ from actual alert messages to minimize any chance that they might be misconstrued as actual alerts.
WEA are enabled throughout UScellular’s coverage area and are broadcast to the affected areas. You may receive a WEA when roaming on another carrier’s network that supports WEA within the 50 states. We cannot guarantee service on another carrier’s network.
Unlike programs based on customer-selected zip codes, area codes, or other designated filters, WEA are broadcast to all compatible devices within the targeted area.
No. Neither subscriber information nor GPS is used to broadcast the alerts. Alerts are sent to WEA-capable wireless devices in the targeted geographical area.
Short Message Service (SMS) alerts from other organizations are limited in nature and are not authenticated through FEMA. Only authorized local, state, and federal officials can send WEA regarding critical emergencies, such as a tornado or a terrorist threat. Unlike SMS or Multimedia Service (MMS) messages, wireless emergency alerts use cell broadcast technology and are transmitted regardless of network traffic.
You may change settings within your device to opt out of Imminent Threats, AMBER/ BLUE Alerts, and Public Safety Alerts, but you may not opt out of National Alerts. Refer to your device manufacturer’s website for the full user guide containing operating instructions and information.
Though WEA appear similar to text (SMS) messages or picture (MMS) messages, they are actually not delivered via SMS or MMS. They are cell-broadcast messages and are therefore not blocked. However, there is no charge for WEA, and they do not affect your voice, messaging, or data usage.
In some cases, factors outside of UScellular’s control could prevent the delivery of WEA, such as a device is set to opt-out of receiving alerts, a device is in WiFi-only mode, a device is served by a cell site that is outside the geo-targeted area or served by a network extender or in-building microcell that is not recognized as part of the carrier’s network. Delivery of WEA is not guaranteed and alerts may not be received in weak signal areas.
If you are in the affected area, you will receive the alert without disrupting your call or data session. The alert should be presentable as soon as available on your device. Some legacy devices will receive the alert when your call or data session has concluded if the alert period has not expired.
You will only receive the WEA if you turn your phone on before the alert period has expired. The same is true if your phone is in airplane mode.
You should contact the alert sender with any questions about that specific alert. UScellular is not responsible for the content of any WEA and has no information beyond what is included in the message. The alerts originate from local, state or federal agencies.
Yes. Audible tones can be disabled in the WEA settings or by turning off the master volume.
WEA have a unique sound and vibration that distinguish them from text messages. They also have a distinct look.
No. Wireless carriers are required to participate in monthly tests of the system; however, customers will not receive the monthly test Wireless Emergency Alerts. Customers do have the opportunity to “Opt-In” and receive State and Local emergency management test alerts when available.
WEA settings will not change if the phone is rebooted; however, they will change if the phone is reset to the manufacturer's settings.
WEA-capable devices should receive an alert only once; however, similar messages may be issued within the alert period or your device may receive a duplicate alert if you are roaming on another carrier’s network.
Not all local, state or federal agencies are authorized to send WEA messages. Customers can check with their local government to learn which agencies are authorized.
WEA are a public safety service offered at no charge and are independent of your voice, messaging or data usage. As a result, you will receive WEA regardless of your account status. They are broadcast to customers with a WEA-capable device in the targeted area.
WEA cannot be forwarded, replied to, copied, or edited. They will be archived with your other messages until you delete them.
In 2006, Congress passed the Warning, Alert and Response Network Act, which allows wireless carriers to broadcast emergency alerts to their customers on a voluntary basis. By the direction of Congress, the act was implemented “to ensure that all Americans have the capability to receive timely and accurate alerts, warnings and critical information regarding disasters and other emergencies, regardless of what communication technologies they use.”