FCC Releases Report on Nationwide September 2016 EAS Test

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The FCC has released a public notice reporting its initial findings on the nationwide EAS test conducted on September 28, 2016.  The nationwide EAS test was designed to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS with a particular emphasis on testing FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, the integrated gateway through which common alerting protocol-bases (CAP-based) EAS alerts are disseminated to EAS participants.  The September 2016 EAS test and the subsequent EAS Participant test result reporting process were also intended to improve FEMA’s ability to deliver alerts in future real-life system activations.  Specifically, EAS participants submitted detailed analyses in the weeks following the test that specified how they received the alert and identified any complications they experienced during the test.  Overall, FEMA and the FCC noted that the September EAS test was a success and a marked improvement over a similar test conducted in 2011.  Among the public notice’s findings:  (1) over 21,000 radio stations, broadcast television stations, cable system, satellite services and other EAS Participants in all 50 states and the U.S. territories participated in the nationwide test, which was a 26% increase in 2011 participation levels; (2) 94% of test participants successfully received the test alert, which was a 12% improvement from 2011 levels; (3) 85% of test participants successfully retransmitted the test alert; (4) 69% of test participants reported no complications in receiving or retransmitting the test alert; and (5) many EAS Participants report that the test alert that they received featured the high quality audio from the CAP-based alert that FEMA distributed via IPAWS.  However, the agencies also noted areas for future EAS improvements, including better audio quality, improved state EAS plans and better system maintenance and configuration by EAS Participants of their own delivery systems.

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