FEMA, FCC Announces Nationwide Emergency Alert Test for Aug. 11
Monday, June 14, 2021 | Comments

The Federal emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the FCC, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) this summer.

The national test will consist of two portions, testing WEA and EAS capabilities. Both tests will begin at 2:20 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 11. The WEA portion of the test will be directed only to consumer cellphones where the subscriber has opted-in to receive test messages. This will be the second nationwide WEA test, but the first nationwide WEA test on a consumer opt-in basis. The test message will display in either English or in Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless handset.

The EAS portion of the test will be sent to radios and televisions. This will be the sixth nationwide EAS test.

FEMA and the FCC are coordinating with EAS participants, wireless providers, emergency managers, and other stakeholders in preparation for this national test to minimize confusion and to maximize the public-safety value of the test. The test is intended to ensure public-safety officials have the methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster.

The purpose of the Aug. 11 test is to ensure that the EAS and WEA systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level. Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems helps to assess the operational readiness of alerting infrastructure and to identify any needed technological and administrative improvements.

The WEA portion of the test will be initiated using FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), a centralized internet-based system administered by FEMA that enables authorities to send authenticated emergency messages to the public through multiple communications networks. The WEA test will be administered via a code that alerts only phones that have opted in to receive WEA test messages. The EAS portion of the test will be initiated using FEMA-designated primary entry point stations.

In case the Aug. 11 test is canceled due to widespread severe weather or other significant events, a back-up testing date is scheduled for Aug. 25. Anyone who has opted in to receive test messages on their wireless phone will receive the message only once.

Beginning at 2:20 p.m. ET, cell towers will broadcast the test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, WEA-compatible wireless phones where the subscriber has opted-in to receive test messages, that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message. Wireless phones should receive the message only once.

For consumers who have opted in to receive WEA test messages, the message that appears on their phones will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The EAS portion of the test is scheduled to last approximately one minute and will be conducted with the participation of radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers.

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