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SMS - Belgium's first line of defence

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Belgian interior minister Patrick Dewael intends to warn every Belgian resident via SMS in times of national emergency. Apparently, Belgium is the first European country to use cell broadcast for this purpose.

Cell Broadcast is a mobile technology that allows messages to be broadcast to all mobile handsets and similar devices within a designated geographical area. The broadcast range can run from a single cell to the entire network. The technology is already used in deploying location-based subscriber services, including regional auctions, local weather and traffic conditions.

Belgium's Dewael wants to modernise the nation's current alarm system, and believes sending an SMS message to every resident is the best possible way. However, sirens, radio and television would still be used in the future.

At this moment it still too early to estimate the costs. Sending SMS messages to all subscribers will be expensive, but is probably also more effective. In many European countries there are already more mobile phones than there are people.

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