FCC report gives EAS infrastructure passing grade

The FCC’s report card on its first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System held in November 2011 is out, and it shows the nation’s EAS architecture gets a passing grade.

The report summarizes data collected from 16,000 EAS participants who took part in the nationwide test conducted by the FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Overall, a large majority of the EAS Participants successfully received the Emergency Action Notification (EAN), the live coder for the national EAS, and, if required, retransmitted the EAN to other EAS Participants,” the report says. “The test demonstrated that the national EAS distribution architecture is basically sound.”

The report shows that 83 percent of broadcasters and 73 percent of cable operators received the EAN.

However, the test uncovered several problems, such as widespread poor audio quality nationwide and the lack of a Primary Entry Point (PEP) in the area for a direction connection to FEMA.

The report, written by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, recommends that another national test should be conducted once the kinks have been worked out. To make sure that happens, it also calls for the agency to begin a rulemaking proceeding to look at issues related to equipment performance during activation of an EAN. It also calls for another rulemaking proceeding to consider possible changes to EAS plan rules.

The report recommends notifying states that they should review and make any needed updates to their EAS plans so they contain accurate, up-to-date information on monitoring assignments.

The report also noted that there is “a significant number of EAS Participants” that appear to not have made required filings regarding the test with the FCC. The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau plans to confirm the continued nonfiling status of those participants and refer them to the FCC Enforcement Bureau for possible action.