Call it a success.
The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau on Wednesday released an initial overview of the nationwide EAS test results, and initial test data indicate that “the vast majority of EAS participants successfully received and retransmitted the National Periodic Test (NPT) code used for the test.
Additionally, improvements made to the EAS using the lessons learned from the 2011 nationwide EAS test and the implementation of the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) appear to have “significantly improved” test performance over what was observed during the 2011 test.
Among the highlights:
- Over 21,000 radio stations, broadcast television stations, cable systems, satellite services, and other EAS Participants in all 50 states and the U.S. territories participated in the nationwide test.
- This is a 26% increase in participation from the 2011 nationwide test (16,731 forms filed in 2011).
- 94% of test participants successfully received the test alert. This a 12% improvement in success rate over 2011 nationwide test (82% received in 2011).
- 85% of test participants successfully retransmitted the test alert.
- 69% of test participants reported no complications in receiving or retransmitting the test alert.
- Many EAS Participants reported that the test alert that they received featured the high quality audio from the CAP-based alert that FEMA distributed via IPAWS.
- For the first time, 74 EAS Participants retransmitted the IPAWS-generated Spanish language version of the alert.
- Reports from the PSSC proved effective for collecting feedback and should continue to be used for future EAS tests.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the FCC and the National Weather Service (NWS), conducted a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) at 2:20 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 28. The nationwide test was designed to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS, with a particular emphasis on testing FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), the integrated gateway through which common alerting protocol-based (CAP-based) EAS alerts are disseminated to EAS Participants.
There are some opportunities to strengthen the EAS, the FCC notes.
Of utmost concern is the poor-quality audio some EAS participants experienced, making them unable to deliver the Spanish-language alert because they received the test from an over-the-air broadcast source before their EAS equipment performed its regular check of the IPAWS Internet feed, which typically occurs every 30 seconds.
“Requiring EAS participants check the Internet-based IPAWS feed upon receiving a broadcast alert and transmit the corresponding CAP alert, if available, would ensure that the most timely and content-rich version of the alert is broadcast,” the FCC said. “This would be particularly important for time sensitive alerts where seconds matter, like earthquake early warnings . The CAP alert would contain a crystal-clear digital audio file as well as any available text or audio files in languages other than English.”
Additionally, some people with disabilities reported difficulty receiving or understanding alert text or audio.