Three SMS emergency text broadcast messages accidentally sent by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management to thousands of Vodafone customers at 1:30 am on 4 October could have disturbed the slumbers of many more, had their phones been capable of receiving messages from the system, which is scheduled to go live by the end of the year.
The MCED website presently shows only Apple phones running iOS 11 as being capable of receiving the messages. Updates for four Huawei models, six Oppo models, several Samsung models and three Vodafone branded phones are listed as “Update not yet available. Coming soon.”
Four Samsung models are listed with “Patch released in September 2017,” but this does not mean the patch has been applied. Not other phone brands are listed.
MCED issued a statement apologising, saying: “The three test messages were sent in error by our European-based service provider while testing the new emergency mobile alert technology.
“Although the messages were only sent to Vodafone customers, the error was not Vodafone’s. We take full responsibility and are working with our European-based service provider to ensure this mistake does not happen again.”
As CWNZ reported in March, the system uses a technology called cell broadcast, which the Ministry in 2009 had described as outdated.
The global body that supports the technology, The Cell Broadcast Forum, appears to be dormant or defunct. Its last press release was issued in 2009.