The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday approved a plan to create a nationwide emergency alert system using text messages delivered to cellphones. The plan stems from the Warning Alert and Response Network Act, a 2006 federal law that requires upgrades to the nation's emergency alert system. The act asked the FCC to develop new ways to alert the public about emergencies. Participation in the alert system by carriers is voluntary, but it has received solid support from the wireless industry. Cellphone subscribers would be able to opt out of the program. They also may not be charged for receiving alerts. There would be three different types of messages, according to the rules: 1) A national alert from the president, likely involving a terrorist attack or natural disaster. 2) "Imminent threats," which could include natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes or even university shootings. 3) Child abduction emergencies, or so-called Amber Alerts.
* FCC approves plan for emergency text messages
* FCC press release