Wireless Emergency Alerts are part of the FCC’s CMAS program and are mandated by law. You may turn off alerts (except for Presidential alerts) if you choose. Go to Settings >Notifications>Turn On/Off.
When the software update is delivered to your phone, you will see a message that states “Carrier Settings Update: new settings required for your device have been installed”. After that, your iPhone 5 or 4S will receive all Wireless Emergency Alerts by default.
While the software update is mandatory, you are not charged for the data to deliver it and Wireless Emergency Alerts will never count against your messaging plan. The update will be sent to users with iOS 6.1 or higher.
Mobile users will not be charged for receiving these text-like alerts and are automatically enrolled to receive them.
There are three different kinds of alerts:
- Presidential Alerts – Alerts issued by the President or a designee;
- Imminent Threat Alerts – Alerts that include severe man-made or natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc., where an imminent threat to life or property exists; and
- AMBER Alerts– Alerts that meet the U.S. Department of Justice's criteria to help law enforcement search for and locate an abducted child.
While these alerts will appear on a person's mobile device similar to a text message, Wireless Emergency Alerts are not text messages. Instead, Wireless Emergency Alerts use a different kind of technology to ensure they are delivered immediately and are not subjected to potential congestion (or delays) on wireless networks.
I just updated my iPhone 4S and it took literally a few seconds to update. I thoroughly believe in this technology and everyone should update immediately by connecting to iTunes or checking for update on their phones (if applicable).