Sprint Nextel announced Tuesday that it would become the first U.S. mobile carrier to offer Wireless Emergency Alerts on its mobile network.

Wireless Emergency Alerts allow mobile phone users to receive messages from the President of the United States, the National Weather Service and other state and local emergency centers. The service is available because of the Commercial Mobile Alert System, a program established by the Federal Communications Commission in 2006.

The alert's message types are Presidential Alerts, Imminent Threats to Life and Property, and AMBER Alerts. Sprint customers can activate into the service by dialing ##CMAS# or ##2627# and choose to enable the CMAS client when instructed. Customers can opt out of receiving all message types except for presidential alerts.

Only certain phones will have access to the service, and the phones don't include Androids, Blackberrys and iPhones. The messages will be delivered at no cost.

By the end of the year, Sprint will test Wireless Emergency Alerts in New York City, the company said, although a specific date wasn't given. The testing will be held in conjunction with the New York City Office of Emergency Management, the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directory and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Last year, Sprint tested the service in conjunction with the California Emergency Management Agency and the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services.

Sprint believes this is a major step forward in giving customers immediate information in the case of an emergency.

Providing immediate, reliable wireless communications before, during and following an emergency situation is trademark of Sprint's service, Steve Elfman, Sprint's president of Network Operations and Wholesale, said in a statement.

Sprint is proud to be the first wireless carrier in the U.S. to offer the service, and we look forward to testing this critical service in a city that is the epicenter of our nation's financial, media and fashion markets.