Industry Seeks More Time to Install Updated EAS Gear

WASHINGTON: The FCC should extend the 180-day deadline for stations to install updated Emergency Alert System gear, and the feds should fund more training to use it. Those are some of the industry suggestions to the commission on potential changes to the commission’s Part 11 rules governing the Emergency Alert System.

Comments on Part 11 rule changes and specifically on Federal Emergency Management Agency’s introduction of the common alerting protocol (Docket No. 04-296) were due to the FCC Monday. 

The NAB said EAS training for state and local emergency managers should be expanded and federally funded.

“Public alerting is a critical function of emergency managers, yet there are no generally accepted standard operating procedures that officials can reference when deciding how and when to activate the EAS, or how to draft EAS messages,” wrote NAB in its comments. “During the often stressful periods leading up to and during an emergency, state and local emergency officials are often placed in the difficult position of deciding without clear guidance whether or not to trigger the EAS,” leading to unwarranted or delayed EAS alerts.

The NAB also supports extending the deadline for EAS participants to accept a Common Alerting Protocol-based alert, saying the much-discussed 180-day “shot clock”may not be enough time for manufacturers to design, test, build and distribute new EAS gear and for stations to install the new encoders/decoders. Barring an extension, the trade association suggests the commission give a break to stations that cannot afford new EAS gear within the deadline.

Coding equipment manufacturer Sage does not believe that a total rewrite is needed before the clock starts, as CAP can begin to be used with the rules as they exist , with minor tweaks. After the industry and the government gains experience with CAP is the time to start thinking about amending Part 11 rules, Sage wrote. CAP/EAS equipment now in the field is upgradable with new software, Sage told the commission.

Emergency management services company SpectraRep, part of BIA Financial Network, said for an effective CAP EAS system architecture, Part 11 rules need to be changed to require EAS participants to monitor multiple IP-based CAP alert sources (such as CAP servers), in addition to legacy audio EAS alert sources. Now, stations participating in EAS must monitor a minimum of two audio sources for EAS. SpectraRep also supports extending the 180-day CAP compliance deadline.
-- from Radio World