FCC to Take More Action on EAS and WEA

EAS and WEA are up for discussion again at the July 12 Open Meeting of the Federal Communications Commission.

As part of its ongoing efforts to revamp the nation’s emergency alerting system, the FCC will consider two documents — a Report and Order as well as a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The Report and Order proposes several changes, including adopting requirements for performing Live Code Tests, which are those local EAS tests that use actual EAS alert codes to train communities how to respond to actual alerts.

[Read: Missouri The Next State To Conduct A Solo EAS/WEA Test]

Within the last two months, the commission has issued several waivers of its WEA and EAS rules to both mobile providers and public safety officials who are looking to test the viability of EAS and WEA alerts in their local areas. As part of the order, the FCC plans to reiterate that these tests must explicitly state that the event is a test, not an actual emergency.

The Report and Order also proposes to adopt requirements that permit EAS participants to deliver public service announcements that use the EAS Attention Signal — that beepy, attention-grabbing, eight-second audio signal — and a simulation of the Header Code tones (which are those three audible tones that follow the attention signal).

The order also proposes to help prevent false alerts by requiring that EAS participants configure their EAS equipment to reject Common Alerting Protocol-based alerts that contain an invalid digital signature and legacy over-the-air-based alerts whose expiration time falls outside of specific time limits.

The related Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is seeking comment on several areas including:

· Whether there is a need for false alert and lockout reporting, and how such reporting could best be implemented;

· Whether the EAS rules should be revised to require state EAS plans to include procedures for preventing and correcting false alerts;

· And requesting comment on factors such as network distribution issues that might prevent delivery of WEA alerts and steps the commission should take to address inconsistent delivery.

The meeting will start at 10:30 a.m. Eastern on July 12 and will be streamed live at www.fcc.gov/live. Current drafts of all items up for discussion can be found at www.fcc.gov/openmeeting.

Susan Ashworth

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.