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FCC Seeks Input on CAP-Related EAS Rule Changes

It wants to know about the effects on operations, testing and gear

The FCC wants comments on the Common Alerting Protocol for the Emergency Alert System before CAP is adopted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

CAP — which by now is familiar to readers who follow developments in emergency alerting — is an interoperable data interchange format for collecting and distributing warnings to information networks, public safety alerting systems and personal communications devices.

The protocol will allow FEMA, the National Weather Service, a state governor or anyone authorized to initiate a public warning to format and “geo-target” a particular alert simultaneously over multiple media platforms like radio, TV, cable, cell phones and electronic highway signs.

FEMA says it might adopt CAP as early as the third quarter of this year. The Federal Communications Commission says EAS participants (such as radio stations) must accept CAP-based EAS alerts 180 days from the date FEMA publishes technical standards for CAP adoption.

The EAS rules will need to be revised in order to accommodate CAP; the commission is asking for informal comments on which Part 11 rules would need to be changed or deleted, and to suggest new rules.

For example, it suggested that commenters might provide their thoughts about equipment requirements, organization, operations, testing and access for people with disabilities and non-English speakers, as well as how EAS participants should configure their networks to CAP-formatted alerts disseminated by new delivery systems like wireline, Internet or satellite.

Comments to EB Docket 04-296 are due 30 days after this notice (DA 10-500) is published in the Federal Register.