Cell phone users will get text message alerts of emergencies under a new nationwide alert system approved late Wednesday by the Federal Communications Commission, according to FCC spokesman Robert Kenny. Under the plan, the FCC will appoint a federal agency to create the messages and pass them on to cell phone companies that choose to participate, an FCC representative said earlier. Once that agency is named, the participating cell phone providers would have 10 months to comply with the new system's requirements. Earlier, the FCC representative explained how the plan would work. Cell phone companies that voluntarily opt into the system would send text-based alert messages to subscribers in response to three types of events:
--A disaster that could jeopardize the health and safety of Americans, such as a terrorist attack; these would trigger a national alert from the president of the United States
--Imminent or ongoing threats such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes
--Child abductions or Amber alerts.
T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint Nextel and AT&T all stated that they would be likely to opt into the alert system if it is passed by the FCC.