Initial Nationwide Alert Testing Results Released
Wednesday, December 26, 2018 | Comments

The FCC and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released initial results of the 2018 nationwide tests of wireless emergency alerts (WEA) and the emergency alert system (EAS) conducted Oct. 3.

EAS participants nationwide were required to submit identifying information by Aug. 27, “day of test” results by Oct. 3, and information on how they received the alert and any complications they experienced during the test by Nov. 19. Individual results are presumptively confidential, and observations are based on aggregated, anonymized data derived from the filings.

Initial test data indicate that the majority of EAS participants successfully received and retransmitted the national periodic test (NPT) code used for the test. Overall, performance appears to be consistent with what was observed in the 2017 nationwide EAS test.

About 19,200 radio and TV broadcasters, cable systems, IP television (IPTV) providers, wireline video systems, and other EAS participants in all 50 states and the United States territories filed their receipt and retransmission results in the ETRS after the nationwide EAS test; 19,069 did so in 2017.

About 95.5 percent of test participants successfully received the test alert compared with 95.8 percent in 2017. About 91.8 percent of test participants successfully retransmitted the test alert; 91.9 percent successfully retransmitted in 2017.

About 90.9 percent of test participants reported no complications in receiving the test alert compared with 89 percent in 2017, and 89.8 percent of test participants reported no complications in retransmitting the test alert compared with 88.3 percent reporting no complications retransmitting the alert in 2017.

About 756 test participants retransmitted the Spanish language version of the alert generated through the integrated public alert and warning system (IPAWS). Around 207 retransmitted in Spanish or both English and Spanish in 2017. About 41.3 percent of test participants that received the alert reported to have first received it over-the-air, while 58.7 percent of such test participants reported to have first received the alert from IPAWS.

The FCC said the WEA portion of the nationwide test demonstrated that a WEA can be delivered nationwide, notwithstanding some inconsistencies in WEA reception by some individuals. Several local emergency management agencies and other entities conducted informal surveys via email, social media and the internet to determine whether respondents received the WEA test message. In the aggregate, these surveys indicate that about 72 percent of respondents reported receiving the WEA test message.

The FCC also received feedback from the public through the Public Safety Support Center (PSSC), which received about 316 responses. Of those responses, approximately 61 percent reported no problems in receiving a WEA. The remaining 39 percent either did not receive a WEA or received one that had issues including receipt of multiple messages or problems with the tone or vibration cadence.

News reports indicate that in certain portions of the country, participating commercial mobile service (CMS) providers did not successfully deliver the WEA test message. Other news reports indicated that WEA receipt was uneven, with some individuals receiving the alert while others in the same region did not. Additionally, Guam, American Samoa and the commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands did not receive the WEA portion of the test because they do not have cellular providers that participate in WEA.

FEMA and the FCC will release more detailed findings when available. The full public notice is here.

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