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EAS Test Rules Updated

FCC says they were guided by lessons learned from 2011 national test

The FCC has updated its rules that would apply during EAS tests. Specifically the agency has established operational standards to be used during future tests and actual emergencies.

The agency says in the 6th Report & Order on EAS the changes were guided by what was learned in the first national EAS test in 2011 and they’re meant to “help facilitate the use of EAS in a way that maximizes its overall effectiveness as a public warning and alert system.”

The action was expected; we’ve reported on many of the adopted changes that were recommended by the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council, comprised of broadcasters, device manufacturers, public safety officials and others.

The item was circulating among the commissioners for a vote during the NAB Show. At the time, FCC Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau Chief David Simpson said he expected the Report & Order concerning the next national EAS to come out “soon.”

The commission adopted “six zeroes” (000000) as the national location code pertaining to every state and county in the United States, and requires EAS participants to use equipment that can process the location code. Those taking part in EAS must have gear that can process a National Periodic Test event code for future nationwide EAS tests “to bring consistency to the operation of EAS equipment in future national, regional, state and local activations.”

Those taking part in EAS will be required to file test data electronically and use the commission’s Electronic Test Report System to do so. The commission is developing a map book as part of that to illustrate signal propagation.

And finally, EAS participants will be required to comply with minimum accessibility rules, to ensure visual messages are readable and can be accessed by the public, including people with disabilities.

EAS participants must comply within 12 months of the new rules’ effective date.

We’ve reported that FEMA has been prepping for the next national EAS test by conducting a series of regional tests; both agencies have said the next national EAS test would occur sometime after the R&O came out.