GCI upgrades Wireless Emergency Alerts system in Alaska in time to take part in first-ever national FEMA test

October 1, 2018

Launch of GCI system means that 95% of Alaskans live within the GCI WEA footprint

ANCHORAGE, Alaska— This week, GCI wireless customers will receive a test message through the national Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system, a federal program designed to warn Americans about imminent threats to life or property. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is scheduled to conduct its first-ever wireless emergency alert test at 10:18 a.m., Wednesday, October 3 when the agency will send a text message to wireless phones across the nation.

GCI, the only Alaska-based carrier to offer emergency alerts through the enhanced national program, launched the upgraded WEA system earlier this year after a successful statewide network test on August 15 and will work with federal agencies to monitor the results.

“Providing the public with information during emergencies is incredibly important to GCI, and today, the most effective way to communicate with the public is through their mobile devices,” said Heather Handyside, senior director, GCI Corporate Communications. “The launch of GCI’s upgraded WEA system means 95% of Alaskans are in a coverage area that can receive these potentially life-saving alerts.”

WEA is a national program that was established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children and other imminent threats to safety. WEA alerts are generated by local, state and federal agencies. Telecommunications companies opt-in to participate in the WEA program.

To receive WEA notifications, wireless device users must:

  • Have a device that is capable of receiving WEA alerts
  • Be physically present in the WEA notification target area
  • Have service with a carrier who participates in the WEA program through the federal system
  • Have the device turned on and cellular wireless service enabled
  • Have access to 4G/LTE, LTE over satellite or most 3G service

The WEA test will occur at 2:18 p.m. EDT/10:18 a.m. ADT with a text message sent to cell phones across the country that reads, “THIS IS A TEST of the national Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

In addition to the WEA test, FEMA and the FCC will assess the effectiveness of the emergency alert system (EAS) which conveys emergency information through television and radio broadcasts. At 2:20 p.m. EDT/10:20 a.m. ADT, FEMA will conduct a national test of the Emergency Alert System, which relies on broadcast, cable and satellite to communicate national, regional and local emergencies.

For more information about the test conducted by FEMA and FCC, visit https://bit.ly/2ng4sg0.

For more information about the WEA program, visit GCI’s Frequently Asked Questions about WEA: https://bit.ly/2MsjDx6.

About GCI

GCI provides data, wireless, video, voice and managed services to consumer and business customers throughout Alaska and nationwide. Headquartered in Alaska, GCI has delivered services for nearly 40 years to some of the most remote communities and in some of the most challenging conditions in North America. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com. GCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of GCI Liberty, Inc. (Nasdaq: GLIBA, GLIBP). Learn more about GCI Liberty at www.gciliberty.com.

Media Contact

Contact: Heather Handyside

Phone: 907-301-3481

Email: hhandyside@gci.com