Alert System Test Flop: Many Users Miss Out on UK’s Emergency Text Trial

Alert System Test Flop: Many Users Miss Out on UK’s Emergency Text Trial

Table of Content

In this article, we’ll look at the reasons behind the failure of some UK mobile network users to receive the emergency alert text during a nationwide test and the implications of this for future use of the system.

Key Takeaways:

  • Three mobile network is investigating why many of its users didn’t receive the emergency alert.
  • A very small proportion of users on O2 and Vodafone networks also reported not receiving the alert.
  • Users with phones without a software update in more than two years or not in range of 4G or 5G networks were not expected to receive it.
  • Conspiracy theories and misinformation spread about the alert system on social media.
  • The UK government is reviewing the test outcome and any lessons learned.
  • Plans for the national alert system were revived during the Covid pandemic.

Three Network Users Left in the Dark

The UK government recently carried out a nationwide test of its new emergency alert system.

However, many users of the Three mobile network failed to receive the scheduled alert.

A spokesperson from Three acknowledged the issue, stating that they were working with the government to understand why it happened and to prevent it from recurring when the system is officially in use.

Other Networks Experience Minor Issues

Although the majority of users who didn’t receive the alert were on the Three network, a small number of people on the O2 and Vodafone networks also encountered difficulties.

This suggests that the problem may not be isolated to a single network and that further investigation is needed to ensure the system’s reliability across all carriers.

Outdated Phones and Network Coverage Impact Alert Reception

In addition to network-related problems, it was reported that users with phones that had not received a software update in more than two years or were not within the range of a 4G or 5G network were not expected to receive the emergency alert.

This highlights the need for regular updates and adequate network coverage to ensure that all users can benefit from the alert system during real emergencies.

Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation

The emergency alert test also sparked a number of conspiracy theories and misinformation, particularly on social media platforms like WhatsApp.

Some individuals shared messages encouraging others to turn off their phones or avoid public spaces, claiming that the alert was somehow dangerous or invasive.

Others falsely claimed that by receiving the alert, users were granting the government access to their mobile devices.

It’s important for the public to be aware of and refute such misinformation to maintain trust in the emergency alert system.

Government Review and Lessons Learned

Following the test, a government spokesperson confirmed that they were working with mobile network operators to review the outcome and learn from any issues that arose.

While the test was deemed effective overall, the government is committed to addressing any failures and improving the system before it is used in real emergency situations.

National Alert System Revival

The development of the national alert system has been a long process, with initial tests starting as early as 2013.

A review published in 2014 recommended the implementation of the system, but the project stalled due to funding issues.

However, the Covid pandemic prompted the government to revive the plans, as it became apparent that an efficient way to communicate with the public during emergencies was needed.


The UK’s first nationwide test of its new national warning system revealed some shortcomings, particularly for users of the Three mobile network. 

As the government and mobile operators work together to review the outcome and learn from this exercise, it’s crucial that any necessary improvements are made to ensure the system is fully functional and reliable during real emergencies.


Written by

Alexander Sterling

Alexander Sterling

Alexander Sterling is a renowned financial writer with over 10 years in the finance sector. With a strong economics background, he simplifies complex financial topics for a wide audience. Alexander contributes to top financial platforms and is working on his first book to promote financial independence.

Reviewed By



Judith Harvey is a seasoned finance editor with over two decades of experience in the financial journalism industry. Her analytical skills and keen insight into market trends quickly made her a sought-after expert in financial reporting.