DoT sends ‘major’ disaster emergency alert to Airtel users

The Telecom Ministry on Friday sent out “severe” disaster emergency alerts to several Bharti Airtel users in Delhi NCR. The warnings, which appeared twice in English and Hindi, were accompanied by a loud siren.

“This is a sample test message sent by the Ministry of Telecommunications, Government of India through the Cell Broadcasting System. Please ignore this message as no action is required from your side. This message was sent to test the Pan-India Emergency Alert System implemented by “National Disaster Management Authority. The goal is to improve public safety and provide timely alerts during emergencies,” the alert reads, with an “OK” at the bottom.

A similar exercise on Reliance Jio took place in Maharashtra two days ago.

In July, the Ministry of Telecommunications, together with the National Disaster Management Authority, conducted a test of the Cell Broadcast Alert System to improve emergency communications during disasters and ensure the safety and well-being of citizens.

“In our continued commitment to the safety of India’s citizens and communities, testing of the Cell Broadcast Alert System is being conducted with every telecom service provider. These tests will be conducted from time to time in different regions across the country to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency alert transmission capabilities of the existing systems, various mobile operators and the Cell Broadcast System,” the Defense Ministry had stated.

The Cell Broadcast Alert System enables the government to broadcast critical and time-sensitive disaster management messages to all mobile devices within a specific geographical area, regardless of whether the recipients are residents or visitors. This ensures that important emergency information reaches as many people as possible in a timely manner. It is used by authorities and emergency services to inform the public about potential threats and keep them informed in critical situations.

Cell broadcast is commonly used to transmit emergency alerts such as severe weather warnings such as tsunami, flash flood, earthquake, public safety alerts, evacuation notices and other important information.

“During the trial period, people may receive simulated emergency alerts on their mobile devices. We assure that these alerts are part of the planned testing process and do not indicate an actual emergency,” the telecommunications ministry said, adding that each testing alert will be clearly marked as “SAMPLE TEST REPORT” to avoid confusion.

Last month, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the government would make biometric registration and police verification mandatory for SIM card dealers to curb phone fraud. To prevent spam calls and cyber fraud, the mass SIM card will be discontinued, he said.

“Many automated calls can be made via the SIM box. Scammers buy SIM cards in bulk and make fraudulent calls. After careful consideration, we have decided that the mass connection system will be discontinued and a proper business connection system will be implemented,” Vaishnaw explained.

Sybil Alvarez

"Incurable gamer. Infuriatingly humble coffee specialist. Professional music advocate."

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