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Are FCC IT Systems Up to the Test?

Commission recommends stations fill out Form Two in staggered fashion

Information has been updated and expanded.

Are the FCC’s IT systems up to the test?

Among other things, Wednesday’s national Emergency Alert System test will reveal what happens when a lot of broadcast stations and other EAS participants try to use the Federal Communication Commission’s new online test reporting system within a few hours of one another — or all at once.

EAS participants, including most U.S. radio and TV stations, are required to file Form Two in the new EAS Test Reporting System after the test but by midnight Eastern time, as we’ve reported (while Form Three is due by Nov. 14). The ETRS is a system intended to help the commission and FEMA “capture and analyze” the test. Both forms will go live when the test happens at 2:20 p.m. EDT. [Here is what they will look like.]

Now the commission’s ETRS team has distributed an email that suggests the FCC is bracing for a data rush. The email recommends that participants file Form Two according to a more specific, staggered schedule: Facilities in the Eastern time zone are asked to file between 2:30 and 5 p.m. local time; those in Central are asked to file between 4 and 6 p.m. local; those in Mountain between 5 and 6 p.m. local time; those in Pacific between 5 and 6:30 p.m. local time; and facilities in other time zones are asked to file it between 9:30 and 11:59 p.m. Eastern.

The email adds that “If you cannot file for your facilities at the recommended time, you may file at any other time” listed above. Yet the commission also then urged users not to start filling out Form Three until Sept. 29. It remains to be seen whether many stations will pass up an opportunity to fill out both at once and be done with it.

The email also reviewed online processes for Forms Two and Three; and for those interested in “batch” filing, the commission strongly urged users to download the spreadsheet template prior to the nationwide test.

FCC EAS Test Reporting System page