Coronavirus: Millions but to obtain UK authorities’s Covid-19 textual content

Text alertImage copyright Getty Images

Millions of cell customers within the UK have but to obtain the federal government’s textual content message alert about coronavirus.

The SMS – telling individuals to remain at home – started being despatched early on Tuesday morning.

But Vodafone has confirmed it solely expects to finish the method later this Wednesday.

One knowledgeable mentioned that it highlights the shortcoming of not having a system that may flash a message to individuals’s telephones concurrently.

Vodafone is the one one of many UK’s huge 4 networks that has not completed the duty.

Three informed the BBC it had delivered the textual content to a complete of 10.7 million telephone numbers by early afternoon on Tuesday.

EE mentioned it had additionally accomplished the method yesterday, having transmitted about 1,000 messages a second.

O2 additionally confirmed that every one its subscribers had been despatched the put up.

Vodafone mentioned it was nonetheless sending out texts in batches of hundreds of thousands an hour, however wanted till a while Wednesday afternoon to complete the method.

“We have sent out the majority of messages and aim to complete the process soon,” mentioned a spokesman.

“We did pause sending them out overnight so as not to disturb people whilst they were sleeping.”

The agency briefly halted the method at 20:00GMT to keep away from waking phone-owning kids. It must ship a complete of about 18 million texts.

The authorities’s full message learn:

GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT. New rules in pressure now: you have to keep at home. More data and exemptions at Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.

The Cabinet Office ran trials in 2014 for a system which bypassed the cell networks and despatched messages on to individuals’s telephones, however it was by no means developed. One operator has prompt that it was thought of too costly.

Other international locations, nevertheless, have financed such expertise and used it through the present disaster.

Image caption New Zealand’s Emergency Mobile Alert system permits it to ship messages by way of cell broad expertise to suitable handsets

Ben Wood is a telecoms guide who helped launch Vodafone’s textual content message service within the early 1990s, when he used to work for the agency.

“SMS is engaging to the federal government as a result of it is a lowest frequent denominator messaging answer – it might probably reach lots of the most weak individuals in society who solely have a primary characteristic telephone.

“But it is probably not match for function as a result of the texts should be despatched out sequentially, that means individuals get them at completely different occasions.

“What we really need is a wireless emergency system like they have in the US, which would allow the government to get the same message to everyone at once – not just for coronavirus, but for things like major weather disruption, that pose a danger to life.”

One advantage of such a system is that the messages may be geographically focused, that means they are often restricted to a selected zone in a metropolis to – for instance – assist discover a lacking baby.

However, not all cellphones or networks help the power.