The FCC announced plans this week to launch an emergency alert system for mobile phones. The system is called Personalized Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), which as the name implies, sends the alerts to only those mobile phone users in a certain area. PLAN is just an addition to the existing Emergency Broadcast Service, which is transmitted via radio and television currently.
PLAN will work for those consumers who currently own a smartphone that is supported by one of the four big mobile operators: Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA. These phones will receive the message in the form of a text message and PLAN will also make their phones vibrate. No word on whether mobile subscribers to some of the country's smaller mobile operators will receive messages from PLAN.
PLAN begins testing in New York City and Washington DC and will send notices of warnings about natural disasters, terrorist attacks or AMBER Alerts.