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Monday's Amber Alert didn't reach all phones in Thunder Bay, where abduction occurred

In southern Ontario, people complained about the alert
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THUNDER BAY — A spokesperson for Tbaytel says company engineers are working with Rogers Communications to iron out the problems that left most Tbaytel smartphone users unaware of Monday's Amber Alert.

The province-wide alert was issued by the OPP because of the abduction of a child, who was subsequently located. OPP later took a woman into custody for questioning.

The issues that left the majority of Tbaytel customers out of the loop were the same ones that prevented most local smartphone users from receiving the message delivered last week during a test of Canada's new Alert Ready emergency notification system.

Communication manager Katie Crowe said that failure initiated an investigation by engineers with Tbaytel in collaboration with other service providers in Ontario that experienced similar problems, including Rogers.

Crowe told Tbnewswatch that staff are still looking into what happened last week and again on Monday.

She noted that the wireless alert system "is a very new system, and the testing was created to discover issues. We're definitely actively looking at how those issues can be resolved."

Crowe said it's difficult to say how long it may take to fix the problems, as different providers have experienced different issues.

"And the other thing to keep in mind is that as far as the alerts being received, you have to be on an LTE network and have an LTE-compatible device. So there are some issues that are out of the control of the distribution system or the provider."

Ironically, for many smartphone users in southern Ontario, the Amber Alert from Thunder Bay worked too well.

The OPP received numerous complaints from people questioning why they received three separate messages about a missing child 15 hours away in Northwestern Ontario.

A police spokesperson said people need to understand that the abduction of a child is an emergency situation, and that a quick alert may save a child's life.

Thunder Bay-based Sgt. Shelley Garr said the OPP "won't apologize for taking any steps necessary to locate an abducted child."

Garr pointed out that sending an alert across the province may bring in crucial information that assists with an investigation, including in instances such as this one where there was no clear indication of the alleged abductor's direction of travel. 



Gary Rinne

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