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You are here: Home > Frequently asked questions > How will it work on mobile phones?

How will it work on mobile phones?

How does the system work for mobile phones?

There are two ways the Emergency Alert system works for mobile telephones within a geographical area affected by an emergency:

  • a text message is sent based on the registered service address of the mobile telephone
  • a text message is sent based on the last known location of the handset at the time of the emergency. This includes visitors and people travelling in the area.

Based on how mobile telephone coverage works, you may receive a text message if you are outside the area of risk but you are nearby that area. It is important that you read the message carefully and understand what action you may need to take.

If you do not know the network that your mobile telephone uses, you should contact your service provider.

Why do mobile phones receive text messages and not a voice message?

Warning messages can be sent significantly faster as SMS (text) message and there is less chance of encountering network congestion.

The warning message can also be received on the handset if the user is on a telephone call.

How accurate is my last known location?

The accuracy of the location of an active mobile telephone is the predicted coverage area of a mobile tower or better.

How current is my last known location?

The last known location of your mobile telephone is updated in many different ways when it interacts with the mobile network such as making or receiving a call or text message.

If the mobile telephone has not interacted with the mobile network it will automatically update its location around every 60 minutes. A mobile telephone's screen shows the network carrier's name and coverage bars when active.

Mobile telephones switched off or without coverage will not have their location updated and therefore will not be identified to be issued a warning message.

How do I find out who my carrier (telco) is?

Mobile phone subscribers can find out who their carrier is by contacting their service provider.

How do you know where I am?

The mobile network records the last known location of each mobile telephone handset.

Does Emergency Alert know where I am? Is it tracking me?

No. The Emergency Alert system does not track your location, as it does not hold location data about individual mobile telephone numbers.

What if I travel into a warning area after a warning message has been sent?

You will not receive the text message. You will only receive a text message if a new warning message is issued and your handset is active is the warning area.

Why did I receive two text messages?

Emergency services can send warning messages to mobile telephones based on location of handsets and registered service addresses within a geographical area affected by an emergency.

You may receive two warning messages to your mobile telephone if your mobile telephone has a registered service address within the warning area and your mobile telephone was active within the warning area at the time of the emergency.

Why did I get a text message when I wasn't in the area under threat?

Emergency services can send warning messages to mobile telephones based on location of handsets and registered service addresses within a geographical area affected by an emergency.

Based on how mobile phone coverage works, it is possible that you may receive a text message if you are outside the area of risk but you are nearby.

If you are away from home but your mobile phone is registered to an address in the warning area you may be sent text message.

If you receive a warning message, it is important that you read the message carefully and understand whether you are required to take any action or not.

Why didn’t I get the text (SMS) message?

You may not have received the text message on your mobile telephone for a number of reasons including:

  • your text message inbox was full
  • the emergency services chose other ways to warn people that may be in the affected area at the time of the emergency
  • your mobile telephone was switched off or was not in a mobile telephone coverage area
  • the last known location of your handset was not within the warning area at the time of the emergency
  • you have not updated your registered service address.

 

What can I do to help prepare my mobile phone in case of an emergency?

There are things you can do with your mobile telephone so when a disaster occurs in your local community you will be well prepared.

During a major disaster affecting your area, being wise with how you use your mobile telephone can reduce the load on mobile networks, may benefit other users, and will assist in the operation of vital emergency services such as Triple Zero (000) (www.triplezero.gov.au) and the national telephone-based emergency warning system, Emergency Alert.

It is important that you have an emergency plan in place that identifies a number of modes of communication in the event of an emergency.

For more information , read the fact sheet Be “mobile phone prepared” for a disaster.

Will the messages be received by mobile phones on the 4G network?

Mobile telephone handsets attached to Telstra 4G networks can be detected by the Emergency Alert warning system and can be sent a warning message based on their last known location.

Mobile telephone handsets attached to Optus and Vodafone 4G networks that have made or received a phone call in the preceding hour will be included. Mobile phones on Optus and Vodafone 4G networks that have not made or received a call or sent or received a text message may not have the latest location information available for the Emergency Alert warning system.

4G mobile telephones used outside the 4G network coverage areas revert to the 3G/2G networks where they can still be detected by the carriers and can be sent a warning message from the Emergency Alert system.

All mobile telephones on the 4G networks will continue to receive messages based on their registered service address.

Optus and Vodafone are investigating a 4G solution that is compatible with Emergency Alert.

Is Emergency Alert able to send messages to Optus Home Zone customers?

Optus mobile telephones connected to an Optus 3G Home Zone for longer than 60 minutes cannot be detected by the Emergency Alert warning system.

All mobile telephones will continue to be sent warning messages based on their registered service address.

What happens if I am working in a mobile telephone blackspot?

Emergency Alert is just one way emergency services may use to warn people that may be in the affected area at the time of the emergency.

Emergency services can use Emergency Alert to send warning messages to a geographic area based on telephones’ registered service address. Therefore, it is important that the registered service address of your mobile telephone is up to date.

If you are working in a mobile telephone blackspot and use a landline telephone, ensure that is not reliant on electricity and will continue to work if the power supply is cut.

If you are working in a mobile telephone blackspot, it is important not to rely on receiving a warning message on your mobile telephone.

People should be adequately prepared in the event of an emergency, continue to use a range of information sources – such as radio and television - and stay aware of local conditions. You should not wait to receive a warning message

Will international travellers be sent a warning message?

Yes. Emergency services can send warning messages to mobile telephones roaming on Australian mobile networks based on location of handsets within a geographical area affected by an emergency.

Will international travellers be charged if they receive warning messages?

Mobile telephones roaming on Australian mobile networks may incur charges from the service provider if a warning message is received.

What can I do to manage mobile phone ‘blackspots’?

Emergency services can use Emergency Alert to send warning messages to landlines as well as mobile telephones based on the location of the handset.

As the system sends warnings to both landlines and mobile phones, if you live or work in an area where there are mobile phone ‘blackspots’, it is recommended that you also have a landline telephone that is not reliant on electricity.

If you live or work in an area where you believe there is a mobile phone ‘blackspot’, you can also seek advice from your telecommunications provider on what options there are to improve your mobile phone coverage.

Whether you are living, working or travelling in a mobile telephone blackspot, it is important not to rely on receiving a warning message on your mobile telephone.

Emergency Alert is just one way emergency services may use to warn people that may be in the affected area at the time of the emergency.

People should be adequately prepared in the event of an emergency, continue to use a range of information sources – such as radio and television - and stay aware of local conditions. You should not wait to receive a warning message before you act.

Is Emergency Alert able to send messages to prepaid mobile phones?

Yes. Emergency services can send warning messages to mobile telephones based on location of handsets and registered service addresses within a geographical area affected by an emergency.

For more information read the fact sheet Receiving telephone-based emergency warnings.

I don't want my child to get warning messages on their mobile telephone. Can I prevent this?

No. There is no way to prevent your child from receiving a warning message if they have their own mobile telephone. This is because you cannot opt out of being sent warning messages sent through Emergency Alert.

It is important discuss emergency preparedness with your child, so they are able to act if they receive a warning message.

If your child receives a warning message on their mobile telephone while they are at school, they must follow the emergency procedures in place at their school.

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