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Sage EAS Firmware Update Is Still Pending

The manufacturer says some users may not be able to meet the FCC deadline

An update to the story below: On Nov. 28 the FCC announced a 90-day extension for Sage customers; read that here.

Here’s an important update for the many U.S. radio stations that use EAS equipment from Sage Alerting Systems.

We continue to work on the Rev96 update,” the manufacturer posted on its website Monday. “We have made the FCC aware that the update has taken us longer to produce than we had anticipated, and that there will be insufficient time for many of our users to install the update by the Dec. 12, 2023 deadline.”

In particular, it said, this may affect users who have a large number of ENDECs or who employ contract engineers with many clients to update.

Three views of the Sage ENDEC EAS hardware
Three views of the Sage ENDEC EAS hardware from the company website

“We apologize for the delay. We will update this page and keep the FCC informed on the release status as we get closer to a release date. When Rev96 is released, an email will be sent to those who are signed up for our support email list.” If you are not on that list, you can sign up on the Sage support page.

Reached for comment, President Harold Price told Radio World that the firmware is in final testing and expected to be released soon, but that he realized over the weekend that this timeline may make compliance with the deadline difficult for users, so he issued a “heads up” to the Sage client base and the commission.

“EAS is an important national resource and part of a complex ecosystem,” he said. “We want to get it right.”

Though the number of units in the field is not published, Sage generally is considered to be one of the largest, if not the largest, suppliers of EAS gear to the U.S. radio industry.

For Sage users, the required firmware update costs $159 and is sold through U.S. distributors. The update is compatible with 3644 ENDEC hardware. (Any Model 3644 purchased new from dealer stock after Dec. 12, 2021 is eligible for a free Rev96 update; that includes serial numbers B418750 to B429999.)

The FCC last year adopted new rules intended to improve the clarity and accessibility of alert messages. EAS participants including radio stations must comply by Dec. 12.

Manufacturers Digital Alert Systems and Gorman-Redlich released software updates to users last month. Viavi (Trilithic) issued an update earlier this year.

Radio World asked the FCC for comment on this story. “While Sage has made staff aware of its issue, we have not received any requests for an extension of time from Emergency Alert System Participants to date,” a spokesperson replied.

Part 11 of the FCC rules states that if an EAS encoder or decoder becomes defective, a station can operate without it, pending its repair or replacement, for 60 days without further FCC authority, as long as it makes a note in its station log. After that, an informal request normally would have to be submitted to the regional director of the appropriate FCC field office, asking for more time.

The commission did not comment on whether Sage users in general will be given a period of grace if they miss the deadline, as has sometimes been the case in the past in similar circumstances.