The Federal Communications Commission is adding mobile phones to its emergency alert system, which currently includes radio and television. The new service, dubbed PLAN (Personal Localized Alerting Network), will initially launch in New York City and Washington D.C. by the end of the year. A nationwide launch is expected by mid-2012, reports FoxNews.com. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have all agreed to add a special chip to new handsets and wireless devices to support the service.
PLAN will provide brief - no more than 90 characters - alerts in the event of a disaster or terrorist attack. According to the FCC, mobile phone users will receive "geographically targeted, text-like messages." The service will send three types of alerts: alerts issued by the president, alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life and Amber Alerts. PLAN will be able to send messages even when cell phone towers experience network congestion, according to CNN.com.