FCC Releases Report on Nationwide EAS Test (4/15/13)
Monday, April 15, 2013 | Comments

The first ever nationwide test of the emergency alert system (EAS) demonstrated that the national EAS distribution architecture is basically sound, however, several problems impeded the ability of some EAS participants to receive and/or retransmit the emergency action notification (EAN). The information is outlined in a new report from the FCC.

The problems included widespread poor audio quality nationwide; lack of a primary entry point (PEP) in the area to provide a direct connection to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA);?use of alternatives to PEP-based EAN distribution; inability of some EAS participants either to receive or retransmit the EAN;?short test length; and?anomalies in EAS equipment programming and operation.

The FCC recommends that another nationwide test be conducted after the commission takes a number?of steps to strengthen the EAS, including:

1) Commencing a rulemaking proceeding to examine equipment performance issues during activation of an EAN and seeking comment on proposed changes, if any, to the EAS equipment rules to ensure that EAS equipment operates in a consistent fashion throughout the EAS architecture.

2) Issuing a public notice encouraging states to review and as necessary update their EAS plans to ensure that they contain accurate and up-to-date information regarding monitoring assignments as required by FCC rules.

3) Commencing a rulemaking proceeding to consider possible changes to its EAS plan rules.

4) Working with FEMA to develop and issue best practices and other educational materials for EAS participants, and, with FEMA, consider hosting a workshop or other public forum that could provide opportunities to educate EAS participants about EAS performance and address concerns and questions that EAS participants may have about EAN operations.

For nationwide EAS testing, the FCC recommends:

1) Commencing a rulemaking proceeding to address any operational nationwide EAS test issues left open in previous EAS orders, such as a possible nationwide location code for national EAS activations, use of the national periodic test code or other test code that would allow FEMA and the FCC to conduct less disruptive nationwide tests; and future use of the EAS operation handbook.

2) Developing a new nationwide EAS test reporting system database to improve electronic filing of test result data by EAS participants.

3) Encouraging the Executive Office of the President to reconvene the federal EAS test working group to ensure accountability as federal partners and other stakeholders work to implement the lessons learned from the first test and to plan for future nationwide tests.

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