US Cellular apologizes for bogus emergency alerts

Emergency alert test
Emergency alert test

U.S. Cellular is apologizing to customers for sending out emergency alerts Monday when there was no emergency.

The cellular phone provider sent this statement to our ABC sister station in Madison:

While conducting an upgrade of U.S. Cellular’s Wireless Emergency Alerts platform, a FEMA test alert was inadvertently broadcast to our customers across our entire footprint. That test alert will no longer be deployed, and we apologize for the inconvenience and concern the test alert may have caused.”

Viewers told Action 2 News via Facebook and Twitter they received numerous alerts with the words “IPAWS Area Emergency Test #1.” Nationally we found hundreds of complaints, including one who said they received 30 within 20 minutes. Some questioned the timing, coming just before election day.

IPAWS is the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Federal, state and local authorities can use the alerts to get information to the public quickly in an emergency.

U.S. Cellular advised users they can temporarily disable the alerts in their mobile device settings.