EAS Changes Progress

WASHINGTON: The Emergency Alert System was a big topic of interest at the NAB Show last month. The FCC is in the process of bringing the system into the digital age and incorporating a Common Alerting Protocol, or CAP. Here, Radio World asked Harold Price, president of Sage Alerting Systems, to summarize the latest EAS developments.

RW: What’s the takeaway for broadcast engineers?
Price: “At the Wednesday FEMA/FCC forum, both said that the end of September 2010 is the expected date for the start of the 180-day clock.”

(Note: The 180-day shot clock refers to the date when the Federal Emergency Management Administration implements the CAP requirement. Stations must have working CAP-compliant EAS equipment in their facilities at the end of that period.)

“Sage was part of the big FEMA demonstration of CAP system interoperability. A rack of equipment in the FEMA booth at the show was used to show that FEMA could deliver CAP messages from its DMOPEN system to multiple vendors, resulting in EAS-formatted alerts.

“Also, Sage was part of the demo of Ibiquity’s Active Radio system, showing delivery of EAS messages with CAP text through HD Radio.

“In early March, Sage went through a pilot run of the FEMA-sponsored CAP conformity test. Live testing is ready to start as soon as the final protocol becomes an OASIS standard, which will happen in June.

“The vendor interoperability demo with the federal delivery system, readiness for testing, final protocol signoff in June and joint FCC/FEMA discussion of the September date are good indications that the CAP clock is indeed likely to start before the end of this year.

“The other two items on the FCC side are that the reply comment period for the FCC’s Second FNPRM--mainly concerned with the national EAS test--has expired, so we expect something from the FCC on that in the not too distant future. And the FCC’s request for informal comments on Part 11 in general, on better integrating CAP into the rules, is now open.

The EAS-CAP Industry Group has published its draft recommendations for FEMA’s CAP-EAS Implementation Guide.” -- From Radio World