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SiriusXM Provides Bandwidth to FEMA for Alerting

Satellite network adds redundancy and less susceptibility to local power and weather outages

Text has been updated with additional information.

SiriusXM has agreed to provide satellite-based backup for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s backbone communication alerting system.

The company is giving FEMA access to secure bandwidth on its satellite system to provide additional connectivity with the agency’s National Public Warning System network.

The partners said in a press release that their agreement will enhance connectivity of FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert Warning System, or IPAWS.

SiriusXM will provide a satellite-based delivery system for the National Public Warning System, which already consists of 77 designated broadcast stations, most of them AMs, and other relay facilities that cooperate with FEMA.

“A secure, trusted, capable and reliable technology ecosystem is the foundation of the IPAWS NPWS capability,” said Antwane Johnson, director of FEMA IPAWS in the announcement.

“IPAWS embraces innovative technologies and platforms, and SiriusXM’s satellite network helps reinforce our capabilities.”

SiriusXM’s satellite network provides coverage of the continental United States and is not susceptible to power- and weather-related outages that can affect terrestrial networks, the partners said.

Bridget Neville, senior vice president and general manager of signal distribution engineering at SiriusXM, said the arrangement will help strengthen FEMA’s ability to respond to weather-related crises and other emergencies. The company already broadcasts Emergency Alert System messages on its free preview channels, which are available on all satellite radios without a subscription.

Subscribers to SiriusXM’s audio entertainment and information services are not affected.

Larry Wilkins, director of engineering services for the Alabama Broadcasters Association and chair of Alabama State Emergency Communications Committee, said, “I applaud FEMA’s agreement with SiriusXM to create a redundant feed for national-level test and alerts to the PEP stations around the country.”

He noted that Alabama has already begun to install SiriusXM receivers at all Local Primary stations and other key stations around the state.

“These units were furnished at no cost to the stations and monitor Channel 1 for national level alerts and test. In addition, all the NPR stations in the state are also monitoring the NPR squawk channel for national-level alerts and test. These two sources along with our GSSNet satellite system allow the elimination of much of the ‘daisy chain’ system.”