thumbs up, so far.
Initial reports rolling in from radio people across the United States suggest that the third national test of the Emergency
Alert System has gone off without much trouble, though there were notes here
and there of hissy audio, and some initial trouble logging into the FCC’s
online reporting system.
The National Periodic Test was sent
by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 2:20 pm Eastern time on Sept. 27 with
resource links to audio files in English and Spanish. According to one EAS
equipment manufacturer who watched the test origination via webinar, the NPT alert
was originated and sent right at 2:20 using a Digital Alert Systems DASEOC unit
located at the National Emergency Management Association conference in
Officially, the NPT posted on IPAWS
OPEN as a CAP message at 12:20:24 Eastern. The CAP message was sent with the
two languages along with resource links to the audio messages for each language.
the first time FEMA initiated an NPT alert while ‘on the road’ since doing
their regional NPT testing some time ago. Origination appeared to have
went perfectly,” said Ed
Czarnecki, senior director of strategic and global government
operations for Monroe Electronics.
A quick roundup check suggests things
“Things worked well in this part of Texas,”
said Ben Downs, general manager of Bryan Broadcasting, which operations radio
stations in Texas. “We have three sets of receivers and we heard the message
clearly on all three.”
are not unheard of on a national test, he continued. “We had one receiver that
received three sets of alert tones; one right after the other. The message
wasn’t repeated however.”
He also noted that his stations
received the alert via the EAS system from an LP2 monitor station. The CAP
message arrived two minutes later.
For Gary Timm, broadcast chair of the Wisconsin State Emergency Communications Committee,
the EAS audio
message was clear and strong on the stations that he monitored.
same was true for some in the Golden State. “For us, it could not have gone better,” said Paul Sakrison, operations manager and
chief engineer for the Los Angeles Angels Radio Network. “It went perfectly.
The activation came from IPAWS directly. The audio message was from the
embedded link and it was high quality with no artifacts. The message was short
and efficient. The EOM was tight.
“We’re very happy with
this test at KLAA(AM),” he said.
|Here is a screenshot of the info that the Sage EAS
boxes at Bryan Broadcasting received. The first shows the station sending
the alert it already received; the second shows the reception of a duplicate
copy of the alert via CAP..
was a success in Nevada, said Adrienne
Abbott, the state EAS chair for the Nevada Broadcasters Association.
the Nevada stations are reporting that the NPT was received and relayed
successfully,” she said. “A few
stations in the more rural areas report that their audio was ‘noisy’ but
the message was still usable. The stations in more remote areas where there are
no other broadcast signals received the NPT from the IPAWS CAP Aggregator and
relayed it successfully.”
Abbott did note that the DirecTV
audio in Nevada was poor quality, which has been noted by others as well, she
east in Luzerne County, Pa., the test seemed to go smoothly, though
there were some issues with audio quality. Bob Reite, chief engineer at WHLM(AM),
said that this year in Columbia County, as last year, the station did not get
the CAP message, but instead received the test from its LP-1 station.
last year it was hissy, as if the LP-1 had received it from a PEP station
rather than IPAWS/CAP,” he said.
There were a few other hiccups. A report from WISC(TV) in
Madison, Wis., noted a cable box lock-up issue, a source said. Apparently after some of the cable tuners
went to the EAS channel to display the text of the message, the
box did not return viewers to the previously tuned channel as it was supposed
to do. Viewers saw a black screen with no audio. Nearly 10 minutes after the
test, the Charter cables for at least one viewer were still black and silent.
After the test, broadcasters
had a quick turn-around-job: file Form Two with the Federal Communications
Commission in the ETRS database to note whether or not the test came in
to their individual station. Stations have until 11:59
PM Eastern on Sept. 27 to file Form
mixed comments on the process of logging into the FCC’s ETRS database. Sakrison noted that he had successfully completed
both Form Two and Form Three, the latter of which offers more detailed
information on the Sept. 27 test. Happily, he did not run into any ETRS site
access problems, he said.
“The site was quick and efficient,”
he said. “I received confirmation emails from the FCC.”
hit some initial snags. “I
did have some issues with logging in,” Downs said. “Apparently when the site
gets really busy, it dumps you into the administration portion of the site.
he was able to get in eventually, and had finalized Form Two for his nine
stations less than three hours after the test was complete.
The technology behind the scenes seemed to work as
expected, said Czarnecki.
“We’re in the process of hearing back from broadcast and cable operators
on how they fared with the alert,” he said, noting that some DASDEC users have indicated
that they received the NPT alert almost as soon as IPAWS posted it, and
transmitted the test alert with excellent first-generation audio from the CAP
Others have indicated receiving the alert
from an upstream broadcast EAS source, so the audio quality was reported to
have suffered a bit in the EAS relay compared to CAP, Czarnecki said.
The few audio issues he’d heard about appear to be related to the upstream
source, not the equipment at the station, he said.“As with last year’s test, we’ll be eager to see
the FCC and FEMA reporting on the test results, including the portion of
stations that processed the CAP message versus the EAS relay message,” he said.
Share your own observations about the test at your end. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.