NAB has expressed support for a national annual EAS test; other radio groups had opinions on this issue as well, as did equipment manufacturers that supply EAS encoders/decoders. I’m focusing on three of the latter here.
Sage Alerting Systems supports annual national EAS testing, writing to the commission that there’s no other way to substantiate the operational readiness of the system than periodic testing. It suggests the FCC, with FEMA and its other federal partners, should determine the exact combination of event, originator and location(s) to be used for the national test, and for live national alerts to get the daisy-chain relay rate closer to 100%.
Sage believes national testing should start on its own timeline, not tied to implementation of the next-gen EAS Common Alerting Protocol, because the FCC has said EAS will continue to be used in the foreseeable future and the CAP rollout may not start until the end of 2010. “The first national EAS test can, and should, occur sooner.”
TFT noted that one part of the header codes in the EAS message protocol contains an event code and another part a specific location code. “These two fields, along with others, are used to determine message validity and routing.” It writes that “equipment authorization certification for EAS encoders and decoders requires that the event codes be codified. If other agencies are permitted to use other codes not codified, legacy equipment may not recognize those codes and may not receive or be capable of forwarding a message containing them. The FCC should delete references to other such codes,” says TFT.
Digital Alert Systems says simulation testing is not enough, that it recommends field testing at the national level to improve the EAS system.
Initial comments to EB Docket 04-296 were due March 15. Replies will be due April 13.