If your mobile phone didn’t buzz or squeal during emergency alert testing Wednesday afternoon, you’re certainly not alone.
Glitches with the new push notification alert system appeared to continue in Saskatchewan and other Western Canadian provinces where some people with mobile phones saw or heard the test signals and others did not.
Saskatchewan residents took to social media and texted News Talk Radio at 306-306 to report varying results, with many people saying they didn’t get an alert at all.
There is still no word from officials about what caused the issues in Saskatchewan.
Tests of the system earlier in the week in Quebec and Ontario also revealed problems.
No alerts were registered on mobile devices in Quebec, while only some mobile subscribers in Ontario received the signal.
System operators blamed the Quebec malfunction on a computer coding error and were still investigating what went wrong in Ontario.
Round two of testing seemed to start off without problems in Eastern Canada.
“During the tests in Atlantic Canada the wireless carriers … confirmed that test messages were distributed across their networks,” Pelmorex, the company that operates the system, said in a statement.
But reports on social media later began to appear suggesting all might not be working as emergency officials had hoped in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
“Did not get the alert,” Rae Cardiff wrote on Twitter. “In Calgary on Telus network.”
“No alert here in Saskatchewan,” Cam Lee tweeted.
The anecdotal reports suggested no pattern to who didn’t get alert in terms of wireless carrier, location or type of phone.
Mike from Rosetown texted 306-306 to say he was carrying two iPhone 6s’s which are both on the SaskTel network – one for work and one for personal use – and one showed the alert while the other didn’t.
People who were near the Alberta and Manitoba borders also reported getting the alert messages at different times.
Earlier in the week, Saskatchewan emergency officials said the alerts would come from whichever cell tower your phone was picking up signals from at the time.
The alerts also created some confusion, with some on social media asking if they didn’t get them because they don’t have the SaskAlert app. While the province encouraged people to download the app to get more specific information from regional authorities in an emergency, this test notification was supposed to go to all phones to simulate the alerts used for life-threatening situations.
While Pelmorex operates what’s called the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination (NAAD) System, it pointed to wireless and other service providers as the final layer in the multi-partner emergency messaging service.
“TV, radio, cable, satellite and wireless providers are the ‘last mile’ distributors,” the company said.
“It is their role to deliver alert messages directly to Canadians.”
While wireless service providers were working to verify the handset reception success rate for devices across the country, Pelmorex also said the new system is in its infancy and not all wireless devices are compatible to receive messages from Alert Ready.
A lot depends on the handsets used and the software versions of the devices, company officials said in a statement.
Test signals did sound on radio and TV stations Wednesday in provinces and territories outside of Ontario and Quebec, except Nunavut.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ordered wireless providers to implement the system to distribute warnings of imminent safety threats, such as tornadoes, floods, Amber Alerts or terrorism.
—With files from Canadian Press