On December 8, 2022, German officials will begin a nationwide test of a new emergency communication system known as DE-Alert or Cell Broadcast. The system was designed to utilize mobile communication networks as a way to warn the population in the event of disasters or major accidents.
Cell Broadcast will use a special technical specification to broadcast timely information to mobile phones in the event of an emergency. After the test phase, the system will be activated for all German mobile phone users by February 2023 and will be under the administration of the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance.
Emergency information sent via Cell Broadcast reaches all compatible devices within a radio cell without the need for a specialized app, messaging service, or subscription. When a message is received, the mobile device emits a loud warning sound and also displays relevant text which on some devices is also read out loud.
Notifications are sent in both German and in English however if your phone’s default language is set to English you will receive English notifications, if it is set to German you will receive notifications in German.
For easyMobile customers
German wireless carriers, including TKS’s parent company Vodafone, have already begun sending customers information via SMS or email about the forthcoming test of the emergency broadcast system. easyMobile utilizes the Vodafone wireless network so you may have already received an SMS on this topic (in German), or will receive one shortly.
Spam Alert: While network operators are busy sending out informational messages to their customers, this situation can also present a unique opportunity for scammers. As always, please remain vigilant in regard to messages received from unverifiable sources that are not for example in your personal list of known contacts. Do not reply to unsolicited messages or follow potentially dangerous links embedded in these messages.
Managing emergency broadcasts
On newer devices, emergency notifications of the most critical or highest warning level cannot be deactivated, however you can change the settings for notifications of lower-priority messages.
Go to the “Settings” menu, scroll down and tap “Safety and emergency”, then tap on “Wireless emergency alerts”. Here you can adjust the settings for emergency warnings and test messages. These settings can also be reached by searching for “Wireless emergency alerts” in your device’s main “Settings” menu.
iOS 15.6 and later
Go to device settings and select “messages”, then scroll to the bottom of the screen. Under “emergency alerts”, you can determine whether you wish to receive warning and test messages.
For other operating systems and older versions of Android
You may have to manually activate the Cell Broadcast service. Generally, these settings can be found by searching for “Cell Broadcast”, “warning notification”, or “wireless emergency alerts” within the phone’s main “Settings” menu. Please consult the device’s user manual or the manufacturer for additional information.