FEMA Presidential Alert test message postponed to October 3

On October 3, smartphones in the United States will receive a text message from the president in the form of an emergency alert test. Called the Presidential Alert, this message is intended to deliver important advisories on national emergencies, though the test itself will simply advise smartphone owners that they don't need to react.

Mobile phone owners in the US already receive two types of emergency alerts: AMBER alerts and emergency weather alerts. The Presidential Alert works in the same way, appearing on a phone as a message with an important piece of information. This will be the first nation-wide test of FEMA's Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system.

FEMA originally announced plans to test the Presidential alert on September 20, but in an update published this week, the agency says it has postponed the test until October 3. The reason for delaying the wireless alert test is unclear.

The test will be coordinated with the FCC and include a nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) test, as well. The wireless alert version of the test will take place at 2:18PM EDT on October 3, followed two minutes later by the EAS test. The action will, in part, help FEMA and the FCC determine whether any improvements to the systems are necessary.

When the WEA test alert is issued, assuming nothing goes wrong, smartphone owners throughout the US will see a message that says Presidential Alert as the sender, followed by the message: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed." A longer version of that message will be delivered by the EAS on TVs and via radio.