Countries with Cell Broadcast PWS (Public Warning System)

2009 – Japan
2009 – Sri Lanka
2012 – Netherlands
2012 – Lithuania
2012 – Turkey
2012 – Chile
2012 – USA
2014 – Taiwan
2014 – South Korea
2015 – Russia
2016 – Philippines
2016 – United Arabic Emirates
2017 – New Zealand
2018 – Romania
2018 – Canada
2018 – Oman
2019 – Greece
2020 – Peru
2020 – Hong Kong
2020 – To be revealed soon



The use of mobile technologies in Public Alerting

This paper aims at describing the state of the art regarding the use of mobile technologies in Public Warning Systems (PWS) and introducing Intersec Alerting Solution.

Context: two dominant technologies for alerting coexist on the market

The huge adoption of mobile phones all over the world is providing a great opportunity for governments to better inform population during emergency situations, by sending a message to all handsets that are in the hazardous zone. In order to do so, several technologies can be used.

In 2006 the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) produced a report on mobile-based technologies that became the basis for an emergency messaging service. The report suggested several mobile technologies (Paging, CBS, SMS, TV, MBMS, MMS, USSD, Email, IM Service) and concluded that Cell Broadcast Service (CBS) and Short Message Service (SMS) were among the most suitable technologies for delivering a mobile-driven PWS.

cell broadcast

Cell Broadcast 

Cell Broadcast, the historical and most widespread choice

How CBS became the standard

Further 3GPP & ETSI reports define more precisely the requirements for a PWS. Although they do not specify which technology has to be used, some CBS characteristics make it particularly interesting:

It uses a dedicated channel, allowing the delivery to millions of people in seconds, without being affected by network congestion (and without causing it). On the contrary, SMS use shared signaling channels and network congestion may lead to delays in delivery.

It can be displayed automatically with no user interaction and with a special ringtone, making the CBS message instantly recognizable as an alert (unlike the SMS).

When Japan decided to implement its Earthquake and Tsunami Warning System (ETWS) in 2007 it chose CBS for its delivery speed. This aspect is indeed very important for earthquake warning, where the alert message has to be sent in the short time lapse (a few tens of seconds) between the first non-destructive waves and the real earthquake. The Japanese system was then formalized in 3GPP standards, setting the rule for future implementations.

Several countries have since followed Japan’s example and chosen CBS for their PWS, including Israel, Chile, the USA, Romania, Lithuania, Philippines, New Zealand, South Korea, Peru, Thailand,  United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.

CBS limitations

However, CBS has one main limitation: it is not supported by all handsets and even when it is supported it requires a manual configuration from the user.

This means that it does not reach everybody. During a test conducted in the Netherlands in November 2013 many people complained on Twitter that they did not receive the message .

This was supposed to be a temporary issue but cell broadcast penetration among handsets proved to be slower than expected. As of today it is still unclear how many years will be needed before all handsets can receive CBS messages. Based on Homeland Security study on WEA mobile penetration , we can assume that from the time a country decides to implement CBS alerts, 5 to 10 years will be needed before a large percentage of the population (more than 90%) have a compatible device.

Moreover, the need for a manual configuration remains an issue, as a lot of people are still not familiar with the procedure, which can further postpone the date at which 90% of the population will actually receive the alerts.

SMS, historically second-best choice, has recently been chosen by several countries

For that reason and following recent technology improvements more and more countries are considering geo-targeted SMS as a viable option for mass-alerting. And that is how SMS, despite its limitations, is coming back on stage, maximizing the reach of the alerting campaign as all handsets natively support SMS, without requiring any configuration.

Australia was the first country to make this choice, in 2009, and today claims a rate of 93% of successful SMS delivery . SMS systems have also been deployed in Norway and Belgium, and a trial in the UK in 2013 concluded that location-based SMS was the preferred solution over CBS.

SMS overcame CBS

SMS overcame CBS 

In addition to solving the reach issue, SMS offers several advantages, such as:

  • It is less expensive and quicker to implement, as much of the infrastructure is already in place,
  • It gives a proof of delivery, insuring governments and MNOs against all liability in case of accidents,
  • It unlocks the possibility to personalize the message (e.g. the language) on a per-user basis.

However, SMS keeps the aforementioned limitations:

  • Network congestion may lead to delays in delivery,
  • A standard SMS may not be identified immediately as urgent

CBS-SMS comparative analysis: what to keep in mind

The following table summarizes the main advantages and drawbacks of the two technologies:

geo-targeted sms vs cbs

Geo-targeted sms vs CBS 

CBS and SMS are often considered as rival technologies for PWS. However, a closer look at their ad-vantages and drawbacks reveals some complementarities, meaning that using them together will solve most issues that each technology faces when used alone.

Intersec approach: combine CBS and SMS to maximize both reach and delivery speed of PWS

Intersec approach can be summarized in two key points:

  • Combine CBS and SMS channels to maximize both reach and delivery speed with advanced network congestion prevention mechanisms
  • Take advantage of our unique geofencing technology, which is both real-time and mass-scale, for advanced population movement monitoring and increased efficiency in crisis management.
    Intersec has a proven track of records for Cell Broadcast and Igloo technologies in about 15 countries covering several hundred million people. Major deployments include various affiliates in Orange Group, Weve (joint venture of EE, O2 and Vodafone in the UK) and Telefonica Group in Europe and Latin America.

Maximizing reach & time to inform everybody effectively

Intersec multi-channel approach allows to maximize both reach and delivery speed by:

  • Using CBS to inform CB activated handsets rapidly. Intersec CBS is particularly relevant in a context of PWS: it is network agnostic (2G/3G/4G), PWS standards compliant (CAP/ATIS), and includes smart network congestion mechanisms.
  • Sending SMS as a complement: first to people with a non CB compatible device and then to CB compatible devices in case CB was not configured or activated.

Moreover, Intersec solution uses real-time monitoring of subscribers density and statistics of successful delivery reports to optimize delivery timeline and which areas get alerted first. This way the delivery can benefit from the additional word of mouth effect, accelerating efficiently the spread of the alerting.

Maximizing successfulness of SMS delivery

Network congestion may cause delay in SMS delivery during emergency situations. Intersec solution implements several features designed to minimize this effect, such as:

sms delivery

  • Using our Plateforme as a cache to offload network elements such as HLR,
  • Leveraging on subscriber connection state to maximize First Delivery Attempt success,
  • Prioritizing the SMS alerting traffic over the user P2P traffic,
  • Using real-time monitoring of RAN / core network nodes load information to ensure SMS delivery across congested networks.

Increasing campaign effectiveness

GeoSafe offers two unique capabilities that allow increasing the effectiveness of an alerting campaign:
The ability to manage lists of people, to know who has been alerted,
A mass-scale real-time view over the location of all subscribers on the network.

These features increase crisis management efficiency by:

  • Sending personalized messages in the language of the subscriber,
  • Optimizing the evacuation plan by sending appropriate directions to different groups of population in the same area,
  • Monitoring the effects of the campaign in real-time (using heat maps and statistics about population movements) to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.

It also allows to communicate with the alerted population after the crisis even if they have left the area, which was identified as a key issue by Francis Markus – East Asia spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) – who commented after the Fukushima event in Japan that “the conditions faced by those displaced were made worse by them not knowing when they can return.”
Intersec provides a consolidated future proof solution, which:

  • Is 100% telco grade, highly performant and supports virtualization,
  • Maximizes the reach towards the population,
  • Integrates unique and compelling functionalities for PWS for increased crisis management and population safety.


CELL BROADCAST versus SMS: Uma discussão necessária

No dia 14 de Novembro de 2018, o Parlamento Europeu, aprovou a obrigatoriedade de todos os Países da União Europeia disponibilizarem um sistema de Alerta à População, em caso de situações de emergência.

A legislação não determina se será utilizado o Cell Broadcast ou SMS para alertar os cidadãos. Caberá a cada País decidir o tipo de tecnologia a utilizar.

Em Portugal ainda não foi decidido qual o melhor sistema a implementar para alertar a População e Visitantes. Actualmente a Protecção Civil encontra-se autorizada a enviar alertas por SMS, e apenas em caso de incêndios, sendo que está prevista a aprovação de um decreto lei que permita à Proteção Civil, e às Câmaras Municipais, o envio de SMS em caso de risco para a saúde público, acidentes graves, ou catástrofes naturais.


São vários os Países que implementaram sistemas de envio de alertas à População recorrendo ao Cell Broadcast como é o caso do Japão, Sri Lanka, Holanda, Lituânia, Turquia, Chile, Estados Unidos da América, Taiwan, Coreia do Sul, Rússia, Filipinas, Emirados Árabes Unidos, Nova Zelândia, Roménia, Canadá, Omã e Grécia e que estão a implementar ou em testes, Áustria, Reino Unido, Eslovénia, Turquia, Arábia Saudita, China, México, Equador, Perú e Honduras.

Outros Países optaram por implementar um sistema recorrendo aos SMS baseados em localização, como é o caso da Bélgica, Islândia, Austrália, Suécia e Noruega.


Vantagens e desvantagens

Para uma comunicação rápida e eficaz com a População e Visitantes o ideal será utilizar-se o Cell Broadcast, que funciona nas redes 2G, 3G e 4G, estando padronizado para o 5G. Daí ser a escolha de muitos Países, onde o mesmo se encontra implementado, para o envio de Alertas. O tempo decorrido desde o envio do Alerta por parte das entidades para uma ou mais áreas geográficas definidas e a recepção dessa mensagem é sensivelmente de 4 segundos em todos os equipamentos.

As mensagens enviadas recorrendo ao Cell Broadcast não sofrem atrasos na entrega, mesmo havendo saturação nos serviços de dados, voz e sms em determinada zona geográfica. Pode ser enviado um alerta para milhares de utilizadores sem que haja degradação no serviço. No caso das SMS, ao enviar-se milhares de SMS em massa ocorrem atrasos na entrega que podem ser de até ou mais que 3 horas após o envio. Recentemente essa situação aconteceu nas Filipinas, em que a População que recebeu o alerta por Cell Broadcast recebeu poucos segundos depois, e quem recebeu o alerta por SMS recebeu com um atraso de 3 horas.

Com a padronização do Cell Broadcast os alertas podem ser recebidos em qualquer País que tenha adoptado este sistema, se viajarmos até à Holanda ou os Estados Unidos, e se houver o envio de um alerta o mesmo será recebido no equipamento.

Os alertas são recebidos numa determinada área geográfica seleccionada pelas entidades competentes, a mensagem é apresentada no ecrã do equipamento, seguido de vibração, alerta sonoro e leitura por voz. A mensagem poderá estar escrita em mais que uma língua. No Canadá enviam os alertas em Francês e Inglês.

Na Roménia e na Holanda permitem a configuração de canais Cell Broadcast manualmente nos equipamentos mais antigos, para que possam receber os alertas. Em Portugal apenas a operadora móvel altice MEO possui o Cell Broadcast activo em toda a sua rede 2G. Os clientes e visitantes que possuam um equipamento configurado no Canal 50, recebem a informação do indicativo e Região onde se encontram no momento, por exemplo “21 Lisboa”.

Como as mensagens de Cell Broadcast funcionam tipo as emissões das estações de rádio AM ou FM, qualquer utilizador que esteja na área geográfica definida para o envio do alerta, recebe as mensagens de forma anónima, o operador não tem conhecimento de quem recebeu as mensagens.

É possível desactivar a recepção de mensagens de Cell Broadcast nos equipamentos. Nos Estados Unidos, Canadá e Nova Zelândia não é possível desactivar os alertas nos equipamentos por decisão do Governo.


  • O investimento inicial
  • A compatibilidade dos equipamentos existentes no mercado: por exemplo no caso dos iPhones teria que ser necessário pedir à Apple uma actualização de software, e nos restantes equipamentos seria necessário uma configuração manual por parte dos utilizadores.

A vantagem do SMS em relação ao Cell Broadcast é que todos os equipamentos suportam a recepção de SMS, numa fase inicial permitiria chegar a quase 100% dos utilizadores.


  • Atraso nas mensagens que podem levar horas a chegar aos utilizadores, há exemplos práticos disso onde recentemente nas Filipinas as SMS levaram 3 horas a serem entregues à População. Em Portugal também assistimos a atrasos na entrega das SMS porque estarão sempre dependentes de vários factores como a capacidade e saturação da rede em determinados locais.
  • Não é possível realizar Opt-out.
  • É possível serem enviadas SMS falsas em nome de uma entidade, correndo o risco de se criar o pânico na População.
  • Questões de privacidade: há uma base de dados LBS com o registo das localizações dos assinantes e visitantes.

Um possível obstáculo à implementação do Cell Broadcast em Portugal para um sistema de alerta e aviso à População poderá ser o factor financeiro. Os SMS estão amplamente disseminados, no Cell Broadcast teria que existir investimento. Por parte das operadoras móveis não existe um modelo de negócio onde possam ter retorno financeiro com o Cell Broadcast. Em todos os Países onde o mesmo foi implementado teve que existir uma decisão Política e investimento por parte do Governo.



Acima podemos ver o menu de configuração para o sistema de alertas via CELL BROADCAST SYSTEM

Nas imagens abaixo dois exemplos de alertas via CELL BROADCAST SYSTEM na Roménia


Um Cell Broadcast System consiste em um Cell Broadcast Center (CBC) localizado na rede de um operador móvel. Poderá existir um ou mais que um Cell Broadcast Entities (CBE), dependente das entidades que irão gerar as mensagens. Os CBEs estão disponíveis em diferentes tipos e podem ser fornecidos como um terminal simples ou como uma aplicação. Seja qual for a configuração escolhida pelas entidades, a complexidade do serviço da rede móvel permanece oculta pelo CBC, tornando o serviço de Cell Broadcast simples de usar. Por meio do CBE, as entidades simplesmente criam uma mensagem e seleccionam o local ou os locais para os quais precisam enviar a mensagem, usando uma interface de utilizador intuitiva. A mensagem é então enviada para o CBC que mapeia a área de destino para as células da rede móvel. Subsequentemente, o CBC envia a mensagem aos elementos de rede de acesso de rádio requeridos que gerenciam a transmissão da mensagem nas células da área geográfica escolhida.

Arquitectura de um Cell Broadcast System

SMS – Mensagens enviadas point-to-point

CBS – Mensagens enviadas one-to-many

Arquitectura do CBS da Nova Zelândia

Alerta via Cell Broadcast nas Filipinas

Vários equipamentos nos Estados Unidos a receberem um Alerta por Cell Broadcast


Com a aprovação do Parlamento Europeu da obrigatoriedade de todos os países da União Europeia disponibilizarem um sistema de Alerta à População, julgamos estar na altura de termos todos, enquanto cidadãos activos e intervenientes, uma discussão aberta e não somente técnica, sobre que solução adoptar no nosso país.

Na VOST Portugal somos da opinião, que a melhor solução é aquela que mais rapidamente fará chegar os alertas ao maior número de pessoas nas áreas afectadas. Temos variados exemplos, infelizmente, onde um CBS poderia ter evitado perdas humanas e materiais, e existe agora uma oportunidade única para implementar uma solução que sirva as populações.

Deixamos aqui algumas questões, que nos parecem pertinentes para esta discussão:

  • Quais são as entidades que estão a ser consultadas no sentido de termos uma legislação que sirva os cidadãos?
  • Quais são as tecnologias de comunicação móvel a serem consideradas para informar a população?
  • Como o tema é complexo, quais são as iniciativas adicionais previstas para assegurar uma discussão que envolva todos os cidadãos?



New Zealand Selects one2many for National Emergency Mobile Alert System

the world’s leading Wireless Broadcast company, has been selected by New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) to deploy a national Wireless Emergency Alert system. The system will enable government agencies to warn at-risk communities of critical adverse events and threats to life, health and property by sending emergency alerts to their mobile phones. The cloud-based service will be fully managed by one2many for up to 12 years.

To enable the system, one2many has delivered its new Public Warning Portal cloud service to MCDEM: a mobile alert creation and management system that emergency management personnel can use to generate public warnings. The Public Warning Portal also enables automatic alert generation, which can enable alerts to be swiftly issued for emergencies such as tsunamis or earthquakes. The open architecture of the Portal means that MCDEM will in the future be able to integrate any additional emergency alert channels, such as social media, TV and radio, without comprising its reliability or requiring changes to the system.

As part of the deployment, one2many also delivered its Cell Broadcast Systems in the private cloud of New Zealand’s mobile operators’ networks: Spark, Vodafone NZ and 2degrees. one2many’s software securely interfaces with MCDEM’s public cloud-based Public Warning Portal to enable the broadcast of emergency alerts to all 3G and 4G mobile subscribers within the location of an emergency. Crucially, people do not need to download an app on their mobile phone or subscribe to a service. If their phone is on, capable of receiving the alert and inside the target area then they should receive the alert.

David Coetzee, Manager, Capability & Operations at New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, commented: “In a country where emergencies such as natural disasters are all too common, it’s essential we have multiple robust and reliable means of alerting the public to threats. one2many met all our stringent demands for this contract and are delivering a managed cloud service that’s easy-to-use, secure and comprehensive. Importantly, one2many proved they could meet our exceptionally short delivery timeframe. We’re very happy that the system launched successfully last November 26, and will help us and other agencies to continue to improve the safety of our communities.”

Maarten Mes, managing director of one2many, commented: “one2many is currently the only company in the world able to provide a best-in-class, end-to-end wireless emergency alert solution. Our innovative cloud-based technology, which has been developed by in-house engineers, draws on decades of emergency alert experience to deliver governments and mobile operators with a reliable, secure and geo-targeted means of protecting their citizens. This significant implementation in New Zealand highlights our leadership in this domain and we are proud to have delivered this important project for the country within the tight timelines.”



‘No rude awakening’ – Civil Defence to test emergency alert system

Civil Defence is giving notice about their plans to test the new mobile emergency alert system in a couple of weeks time.

The forewarning comes after a rude awakening last month where text messages were accidently sent out in the very early hours of the morning.

This test is set to take place between 6pm and 7pm on Sunday the 26th.

Enabled phones will emit a penetrating warning sound, and show a test warning message.

Using cell broadcast technology, there’s no need to sign up or download an app, and you can’t opt out.

Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi warns that not everyone will get them.

“About 30 per cent of phones, or about two million phones, will be able to get them. Over time over the next three years we think that will get through to about 70 per cent.”

Faafoi asks that those who can receive the warnings, spread the word to family and neighbours – in a real emergency.

The alerts are another important warning tool, along with the radio and TV broadcasts, reminds Faafoi.


Tsunami awareness saves lives

Tsunami awareness saves lives

World Tsunami Awareness Day on Sunday 5 November is a chance for all of us to find out more about tsunami and how to prepare for them, Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi says.

“Today I have been visiting Seatoun School who have demonstrated use of their tsunami evacuation steps. Seatoun School recognised their tsunami risk and installed steps for their students and wider community so that everyone can evacuate to higher ground.

“All of New Zealand’s coast line is at risk of tsunami.”

“For most of us that means we live near, or visit, places that are at risk and we need to know the right action to take. For a local source tsunami, which could arrive in minutes, there won’t be time for an official warning. It is important to recognise the natural warning signs and act quickly.”

“If you are at the coast and experience any of the following:
• Feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or a long earthquake that lasts a minute or more
• See a sudden rise or fall in sea level
• Hear loud and unusual noises from the sea.

“Move immediately to the nearest high ground, or as far inland as you can.”

“World Tsunami Awareness Day is a chance for all New Zealanders to learn more about the tsunami risk in our regions, know how to prepare for them and update our plans to keep our families safe.”

“It’s important to stay informed if there is an emergency. Know which radio stations to listen to, which websites and social media to follow, get to know your neighbours, and check whether your phone can receive Emergency Mobile Alerts.”

“It’s great to see that a new nationwide emergency alert channel is being implemented to complement the existing channels to stay informed. A live nationwide test of the Emergency Mobile Alert system will be held on 26 November 2017 to test the system.”

Emergency Mobile Alert messages are sent using cell broadcast technology, so there is no need to sign up or download an app, and can be targeted to affected areas, so you will only get it if the emergency is in your area.

The alert messages can only be sent by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, NZ Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

You can find out whether your phone can receive the alerts at Make sure your phone is on the most up to date operating system.

In a distant or regional tsunami there may be time to send an alert.

For local source tsunami, there may not be time to send an alert so it is important to recognise the natural warnings – ‘Long or Strong, Get Gone’.

Emergency Mobile Alert is an additional channel to help keep people safe in an emergency. It does not replace other emergency alerts. If you feel your life is in danger, don’t wait for an official warning. Take immediate action.

Visit to find out how to prepare for emergencies.


Cell broadcast alerting on track for late 2017

Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says the implementation of a new nationwide channel for sending alerts about emergencies to mobile phones is on track to be up and running by the end of the year.

Cell broadcast alerting is a new way of sending information to mobile phones in a set area without people needing to download an app or subscribe to a service.

“The alerts will appear similar to text messages. They are received automatically and for free by all cell broadcast enabled mobile phones in the area,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Discussions with New Zealand’s major telecommunications companies are progressing well and we expect to have contracts signed in the coming weeks.

“Once the cell broadcast alerting system is up and running, an alert will be sent out to mobile phones through the cell towers in the affected areas in the event of an emergency.

“As no technology is 100 per cent failsafe or equally useful in all conditions and emergencies, multiple channels will continue to be used to send alerts when emergencies happen.

“These channels include radio, television, websites, various social media, smartphone apps, sirens and others.

“A range of alerting methods were assessed before cell broadcast was chosen but this system gives the best combination of reach and reliability in New Zealand’s conditions.

“It will get information about an emergency to at-risk communities faster and more reliably than ever before. Plus, cell broadcast technology is not vulnerable to network overloading, so even when the networks get busy after a disaster, alerts can still be sent quickly.

“The system is well established elsewhere in the world in counties such as the US, Japan, Israel, Chile, the Netherlands and Taiwan.

“Countries including Canada, Peru, the UAE and the Philippines are in the process of implementing cell broadcast alerting.

“The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management and the three mobile network operators – 2degrees, Vodafone and Spark – are working together to enable cell broadcast technology in New Zealand for the first time.

“The Ministry is working alongside the Fire Service, Police, Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries to develop a system that will work for the whole of government.

“Cell broadcast alerts don’t replace the need for people to pay attention to natural warnings, which is particularly important in the case of earthquakes and potential tsunamis,” Mr Brownlee says.