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FCC Takes Next Step to Improved EAS

Releases NPRM that seeks comment on several CSRIC recommendations

We reported last week that EAS experts delivered their reports to the FCC with various recommendations on how to improve the system, with an eye towards what they learned after the first-ever national test. At the time, we noted the next step was up to the commission.

The recommendations from broadcasters, equipment manufacturers and cyber security experts included testing the Emergency Action Notification, which is activated by the president or his representative, every three years and adopting a national location code (000000) for both EAN and NPT to prevent confusion with a specific city code and to prevent firmware from adopting a new location code.

They also suggested using event code “NPT” for National Periodic Test, to enable automatic generation of text for national level tests, and suggested cyber security best practices.

Now, the commission has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that incorporates many of the recommendations and seeks public input on tentative conclusions meant to bolster EAS. In addition to those mentioned above, the agency asks for comment on requiring stations that participate in EAS to regularly file test result data and meet minimal standards to ensure alerts are accessible to “all members of the public, including those with disabilities.”

In the future, the commission says in the NPRM, the agency plans to act on recommendations made by its Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council regarding the streamlining EAS state plans and adding other elements of FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System to the testing paradigm, plus basic EAS security guidelines.

Comments to EB Docket 04-296 are due 30 days after Federal Register publication.