Lessons Learned From National EAS Test to Spur Rulemaking

It’s been more than two years since broadcasters participated in the national EAS test; The FCC is working on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to propose changes to its EAS rules based on results from the November 2011 national EAS test.

So says Rear Admiral (Ret.) David Simpson, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau. That work “will lay the groundwork for future regular testing,” he said.

Greg Cooke, associate chief of the Policy Division of the bureau, thinks that NPRM will come out “fairly soon — hopefully within the next quarter.”

Simpson says EAS has come a long way, but with the additional functionality comes risk. Last year’s fake so-called zombie attack, in which someone gained access to the EAS encoders/decoders of a few stations connected to the Internet, made it clear that EAS needs a secure cyber environment, he told attendees in Las Vegas at the 2014 NAB Show.

“Pirate attacks can take down your networks and facilities,” said Simpson, noting that it’s not a question of if, but when. “We don’t believe the government can set up a moat around broadcasters. You wouldn’t want that anyway,” he said, speaking at his first NAB Show.

The CSRIC advisory committee in June hopes to adopt recommendations to protect stations from such attacks.

FEMA-IPAWS’ Antwane Johnson says the build-out of 38 new Primary Entry Point stations is now complete for a total of 77 PEPs, and tells Radio World that FEMA is now focused on upgrading the equipment in the oldest facilities. All have back-up generators and fuel systems to enable them to run independent of a station for about 60 days.

He proposes the EAS community talk about “everything there is that is emergency alerting” and about where EAS is going in the next 10 years. He’d like to have that discussion at the fall Radio Show.

Moderator Gary Timm, broadcast chair of the Wisconsin EAS Committee, began the session with a moment of silence to remember Larry Estlack. The engineer who passed away recently was the Michigan state EAS chair for 21 years.


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