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Nationwide EAS Test to Last About 3 Minutes

FCC says test will conclude with EOM, not EAT code

More technical details about the upcoming national EAS test are trickling out of the FCC.

For one thing, the commission is confirming that the test on Nov. 9 will last for about three minutes, something of an eternity in modern-day radio.

The FCC says that during the test, FEMA will originate a “live” Emergency Action Notification code to all EAS participants, including radio and TV stations, cable systems, Sirius XM, satellite TV providers and wireline video service providers. As part of the test, the public will be told the EAS has been activated for a national emergency, along with an audible notice that “this is a test.”

The commission and FEMA, along with stations and cable providers, are working on outreach efforts to inform the public to avoid panic about the test.

There’s also been a lot of debate within engineering circles about how the test will conclude.

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau says the test will end with transmission of the End of Message code, not the Emergency Action Termination code. The bureau says equipment manufacturers have told the commission that by using the EOM, stations won’t need to reconfigure their EAS encoder/decoders to receive and air the test.

Washington, D.C.’s location code will be the origination code for the EAS test. This, too, has been a question for station engineers, since FEMA previously had said there’s no national EAS location code. The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau believes most EAS encoder/decoders will automatically forward the EAN with the Washington code and not require further configuration. However the commission recommends that stations that aren’t sure whether their device will forward an EAN with the Washington code to contact their manufacturer or FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Office via email to [email protected].

The commission itself doesn’t plan to conduct pre-tests before the nationwide test; however it says FEMA is working with some states, EAS participants and equipment manufacturers to conduct statewide tests of EAS equipment and procedures before the nationwide event.

Stations can find their state’s EAS contact by referring to their state’s EAS plan.

The bureau intends to provide more information before the test.