Cellphones to Get an Emergency Alert System

The emergency broadcast system is coming to cellphones soon.

Federal officials will announce on Tuesday in Manhattan that some cellphone users in New York and Washington will soon be able to receive emergency alerts by text message in the event of a national or regional emergency.

The emergency alert service in those cities is scheduled to start late this year as a prelude to nationwide service later next year, perhaps as early as April. To receive the alerts, users must have mobile phones with a special chip, which is currently included in some higher-end smartphones like the latest iPhones.

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