Federal Network Agency: Green light for disaster warning via mobile communications

Federal Network Agency
Green light for disaster warning via mobile communications

In the future, authorities will be able to send a warning to all mobile phone users via the so-called cell broadcast in the event of danger. Photo: Fabian Sommer/dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

Many people were caught off guard by the catastrophic floods in summer. There were often no warnings. The “Cell Broadcast” alarm system via mobile phones is intended to prevent this in the future.

The Federal Network Agency has paved the way for the introduction of a civil protection alarm system via mobile communications. The authority published a guideline in which the technical details are regulated.

This means that in future the mobile phone networks can also be used to warn the population in the event of catastrophes and major accidents.

The so-called “cell broadcast” enables the authorities to send a warning to all mobile phone users who are currently in a certain area. The warning works not only with modern smartphones, but also with simple cell phones. The policy sees cell broadcasts as an “additional warning tool,” not a replacement for apps like Katwarn or NINA.

Across the networks

The directive requires network operators to target all devices – not just their own customers’ cell phones. So if, for example, a Vodafone customer does not have a network at the moment, but is within range of a Telekom cell, you will receive a warning from this network operator. The system also works with foreign SIM cards.

According to the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport, the guideline will come into force on Thursday. The mobile network operators must then install the cell broadcast technology in their networks within a year.

“With the publication of the directive, nothing stands in the way of introducing this new warning device in Germany,” said Jochen Homann, President of the Federal Network Agency.

After the flood disaster last summer, the call for an additional warning device became louder. After heavy rain, numerous towns were flooded in mid-July. 183 people died, most of them in Rhineland-Palatinate. As it turned out later, some affected communities had been warned of the disaster too late or not with sufficient urgency.

Federal Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) told the “Rheinpfalz” that the flood disaster had completely changed the lives of people in the affected regions. “Everything must be done to better protect people in the event of disasters. It is therefore important and right that cell broadcast is now implemented quickly so that the population can be warned quickly and directly at any time.»


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