Frequently asked questions

What is Cell Broadcast?

A mobile network consists of tens of thousands of cells. Cell Broadcast enables users to send a message to all Cell Broadcast-enabled handsets in a particular cell, group of cells, or the entire network.

Why deploy a warning service using the mobile network?

The mobile phone is a very personal device, which is carried with us everywhere we go. It is therefore the best channel through which to reach a wider audience.

Why is CB the best technology for public warning?

There are several reasons: it can broadcast to millions of people in a matter of seconds; it is location specific, so can be targeted to all mobile owners in a disaster area; finally, Cell Broadcast always works, even when the GSM network is congested.

What is the difference between SMS and CB?

The differences are numerous:

1) With Cell Broadcast, messages are broadcasted to all handsets which are tuned to a Cell Broadcast channel. Millions of handsets are reached in a matter of seconds.
With SMS, messages are individually sent to a known number, one after another.

2) Cell Broadcast is location specific; messages are broadcasted in a particular area. SMS is recipient or handset specific regardless of its location.

3) In the case of network congestion it will be impossible to use regular voice and SMS services. Cell Broadcast remains fully functioning.

4) Every Cell Broadcast message has a serial number and can be repeated for new handsets entering the area, without appearing on handsets which already displayed the message.

What is the difference between an SMS service such as Amber alerts and Burgernet in the Netherlands and emergency alerts over Cell Broadcast?

SMS services like Amber Alerts and Burgernet are not emergency alerts services. Burgernet is used by the police to send SMS text messages to registered users to ask them to help the police locate suspects in the area of their home.

SMS warning services do exist. These services require registration under privacy legislation. Visitors from abroad or from different regions may not have registered. Furthermore, SMS services are not location specific.

Is there a one-size-fits-all warning service?

No, there isn’t. Not all technologies will reach everyone, everytime. A public warning service should combine a number of approaches. The EC funded project CHORIST (http://www.chorist.eu) demonstrates a emergency alerts system based on multiple technologies.

Isn’t Cell Broadcast an old technology?

The base GSM standards date from the 1980s but have been continuously updated. They are mature, trusted and implemented worldwide – important factors for emergency alerts technology.

Do Cell Broadcasts reach visitors from abroad?

Yes. Every handset connected to the network will receive a message.

Do you have to register for a emergency alerts service using Cell Broadcast?

No; however the handset should have the relevant Cell Broadcast channel enabled.

Do emergency alerts messages get priority over normal traffic?

Yes, one2many’s Cell Broadcast System can cease distribution of non-priority messages when an emergency message needs to be broadcast as a priority message.

Does Cell Broadcast deplete the battery of the mobile phone?

The additional battery consumption is calculated to be very small, especially compared to today’s features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, UMTS, full colour displays, GPS and Apps, which consume far more battery power.