• FCC Issues Additional Information Regarding November 9, 2011 Nationwide EAS Test and Extends Cap Compliance Deadline until June 30, 2012
  • September 26, 2011
  • Law Firm: Lerman Senter PLLC - Washington Office
  • November 9, 2011 Nationwide EAS Test

    The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“Public Safety Bureau”) has issued additional information about the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (“EAS”), which will occur at 2:00 p.m. EST on November 9, 2011 and last for approximately three minutes. This test will include transmission of a “live” Emergency Alert Notification (“EAN”) code to all EAS participants, with a notice to the general public that the EAS has been activated for a national emergency. While the test will include an audible “this is a test” notice, the Commission has warned that due to limitations with the live EAN, the video test message may not include a visual “this is a test” disclaimer.

    The November test will conclude with an End of Message (“EOM”) code, and will not use the Emergency Action Termination (“EAT”) code. The Public Safety Bureau said that it understands that use of an EOM code, instead of an EAT code, during the test will not require EAS participants to reconfigure their EAS encoder/decoder devices.

    The “location code” for the EAS test will be the code for Washington, DC. The Public Safety Bureau said that its understanding is that most EAS encoder/decoder devices will automatically forward an EAN with the Washington, DC location code and will not need additional configuration by EAS participants. If you are uncertain whether your station’s EAS device will forward an EAN with the Washington, DC location code, the Bureau suggests that you contact the device’s manufacturer or FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (“IPAWS”) Office at [email protected].

    While the Commission does not plan to conduct pre-tests in advance of the November 9 nationwide test, FEMA is working with some states, EAS participants, and equipment manufacturers to conduct statewide tests of EAS equipment and procedures in advance of the nationwide test. Any questions regarding these pre-tests should be directed to FEMA’s IPAWS Office or the EAS participant’s state EAS authority as listed in that state’s EAS plan, which can be found at http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/services/eas/chairs.html.

    The Public Safety Bureau also identified two websites where additional information related to the nationwide test will be made available: http://www.fcc.gov/public-safety-homeland-security-bureau and http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/eas&under;info.shtm.

    Now is the time to review your station’s facilities and EAS equipment to ensure that it is functioning properly so that you do not need to report any performance issues as part of the national EAS test on November 9, 2011.

    CAP Compliance Deadline Extended

    The FCC has also extended the date by which EAS participants must have equipment that is capable of receiving Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) formatted messages from September 30, 2011 to June 30, 2012. The Commission extended the deadline, in part, because it has not yet finished revising its rules to address certain CAP-related equipment certification requirements. The deadline extension is designed to allow the Commission time to complete revisions to the EAS rules and for EAS participants to obtain and properly install new CAP-related equipment.

    The Commission also cautioned EAS participants that it is aware some equipment manufacturers are marketing intermediary devices designed to allow EAS equipment to receive CAP-formatted alerts in the legacy EAS format. The Commission noted that it has not determined whether those devices comply with its CAP requirements and urged EAS participants that have purchased, or are considering purchasing, this type of equipment to verify with the manufacturer or vendor that the equipment complies with the current EAS rules.

    We encourage all recipients of this memo to share it with their engineering staff and other personnel involved with EAS operations.