Mark your calendars: Thursday, Sept. 20 at 2:20pm Eastern is the date and time for the 2018 annual nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).
For those who were expecting it to occur on a Wednesday: Surprise.
The move is due to the Jewish day of atonement, Yom Kippur, which concludes Sept. 19.
The test is being conducted by FEMA and the FCC.
As communications law firm Fletcher Heald & Hildreth notes in a blog post, immediately preceding the EAS national test will be a test of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system, which delivers emergency alerts to cell phones and other wireless devices.
All wireless providers who have opted to participate in the WEA will be required to participate in this first national test of that system.
Although EAS participants do not need to take any additional action because of the WEA system test, users should be aware that all WEA-capable wireless devices in the nation will receive a test message at 2:18 on Sept. 20.
As with previous nationwide testing of the EAS, participants should file their ETRS Form 1 providing information about their EAS equipment, this year by Aug. 27, in advance of the national test, FHH points out.
On Sept. 20, the FCC will expect participants to monitor their equipment and file a “day-of-test” ETRS Form 2 by the end of the day on Sept. 20.
As in past years, Form 2 will simply require the EAS participant to certify whether it received and retransmitted the national test message.
“Based on our previous experiences with EAS testing, we would expect that there will be some congestion in the ETRS system after the test, so you should probably be prepared to spend some time completing your filings,” says FHH.
Lastly, all EAS participants will also be required to file a post-test ETRS Form 3 on or before Nov. 5.
Form 3 will require participants to identify the specific times at which they received and retransmitted the test message, the source(s) from which they received the test message (including which source it was received from first), the language in which the message was received and retransmitted, and any complications they experienced.