The BDR

The
Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

... edited by Barry Mishkind - the Eclectic Engineer    

Digital Alert Systems

Archived Information on
EAS - CAP - IPAWS - FEMA

The idea is to bring some clarity to the issues and answer your questions. Definitions and
a fair amount of historical info is below, including air checks from the National EAS Test.
This page contains an archive of items from the main page.
(Last update 1/26/13)

Main EAS Page        QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS      General Information        Definitions
The 2011 National EAS Test       Want to ask a question?    

12/12/12 - The IPAWS OPEN server went down today, but without any advance notice, at 11:33AM EST. Complete restoration was finally at approximately 12:45PM EST.

12/11/12 - The FEMA has been doing an upgrade on the IPAWS OPEN server. It was supposed to take a few hours today (Tuesday), but late at night, there was information that there was a snag, and the installation of a mirror server would have to be done another time. The plan for an "active-active" system with rollover, is hoped to prevent any systemic outages in the future - one of the two servers always being active and an automatice "failover" going into effect in case of problems.

10/29/12 - Hurricane Sandy smashed into the East Coast today. Few EAS messages were sent, as it was pretty clear this was coming and the wall-to-wall coverage on the TV nets and many "full service" radio stations pretty much informed everyone. On the other hand, the FCC and FEMA have other ideas on how you may wish to communicate - or at least some might think the priorities are a bit upside-down. At least they got to radio. Broadcasters should feel "special."

10/26/12 - The New Jersey Broadcasters' Association reports that the state's EAS systems suffered a major outage after a lightning strike caused major issues with new EMnet system. A backup trunked radio system also failed at the same time, prompting calls for more periodic testing to ensure both the EAS and backup systems were always ready.

10/15/12 - For those of you who wonder how tests of emergency alert systems work in other countries, perhaps it will provide a small sense of perverse comfort to know that having problems during national tests is not confined to the US.

10/9/12 -  An extra RWT was issued this evening at 8:20PM EDT.  No prior notice was sent from the FEMA on this one. Apparently it was used to test the digital signature and other mechanical aspects.

10/5/12 - We are informed there will be a planned outage of the IPAWS OPEN server tomorrow (Saturday morning) at 6AM to make some changes to the load balancing, and improving the reliability of the system.  It is scheduled for 30 minutes. Step two, will be the addition of a separate, independent IPAWS OPEN server in the near future.

10/5/12 - The FEMA IPAWS server was down again today from 7:06AM EDT to 8:47AM EDT.

9/30/12 - The FEMA IPAWS server was down again today from 4:51PM EDT to 8:39PM EDT.

9/29/12 - The FEMA IPAWS server was down again today from 4:34PM EDT to 5:31PM EDT.

9/23/12 - The FEMA has indicated there was a major system problem yesterday, which was said to have taken down the IPAWS CAP Server and FEMA email for about 30 hours. The FEMA management was on site mid-day Sunday, and the server was restored at 2:47 PM EDT. Investigation is continuing and the FEMA indicates a report on the cause will be issued. The BWWG was in contact with the FEMA during this time and intends to pursue ways of adding more ways of notification - like this page, or the EAS Forum - to help the industry know exactly what is happening. The FEMA, for their part, says that in about three weeks, they plan a second entry port into the Internet.

9/22/12 - The IPAWS Server went down at 11:21 AM EDT, and was down all day.

9/17/12 - Several time zones had troubles with the CAP RWT this week. Some were missed and made up (Guam, Central, Pacific), the Eastern time zone got two. It was blamed on "intermittent outages," according to the FEMA IPAWS Engineering Branch.

IPAWS OPEN CAP RWT  The FEMA has listened to requests from the broadcast community and announced the IPAWS OPEN RWTs will continue TFN.
 
These tests - scheduled for Monday at 10 AM local standard time (11 AM DST) for the main time zone in each state - will be initiated by the IPAWS OPEN CAP server each week

The three most common problems for those installing new EAS receivers:
1. Make sure you have the most current software. 
2. Have the IPAWS server name (FQDN) entered in the setup.
3. Ensure your firewall will allow you to poll the server.

If you still have issues, contact your receiver's tech support line. 

7/9/12 - Sage owners: there is a software glitch that causes the receiver to lock up. It may be related to momentary loss of connection with the IPAWS or CAP server. A reboot usually resolves the problem. Sage has indicated they will have a software update to try to resolve this issue.

7/2/12 - The Central Time Zone CAP RWT apparently did not fire today.

7/1/12 - The FEMA announced today that they would extend the daily CAP RWTs one more week, with the weekly RWTs running through the end of July.

6/29/12 - A status summary of where EAS issues stand by Richard Rudman.

6/28/12 - National Weather Radio is now sending out weather alerts to mobile devices that are enabled to receive the CMAS. These alerts - various warnings - announced on the NWS Home Page are in CAP and will include Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings, Hurricane, Typhoon, Dust Storm and Extreme Wind Warnings Blizzard and Ice Storm Warnings, and Tsunami Warnings. More information is on the NWS site here. A chart of the warnings is here.  News reports indicate such alerts have already been sent/received in different parts of the US.
 
6/28/12 - Some manufacturers are quoting as long as three month backlogs for any CAP/EAS receivers ordered now. Delivery of recent orders may be as late as September, if not later. How does this relate to enforcement?  See #2 and #3 immediately below.

6/26/12 - The IPAWS RWT for Tuesday for some Central and Pacific Time Zone receivers apparently had a bad CAP "digital signature." The FEMA notes there was a "known issue" with the machine that signed the test, but is being looked at by the programmers.

6/25/12 - The IPAWS RWT for Monday was not sent to the Mountain Time Zone. The FEMA has said it has been fixed by an code update.

6/20/12 - IPAWS tests in a couple of time zones were not sent at the top of the hour today. The FEMA manually sent a few "make up" tests to cover the missing time zones.

6/20/12 - A lot of questions have surfaced about what is happening with the FEMA IPAWS CAP server and the end of June. We will try to answer your questions.

  1. Exactly what do I have to do to be "compliant" by June 30th?
    Each station must purchase, install, and make operative an EAS receiver capable of receiving CAP/EAS messages. The most important change from previous operation is that a station must be connected to the IPAWS CAP server. That, of course, requires the new generation of decoders and a wideband Internet connection. At this time, none of the various state/area aggregator tests are required. This will change as state and local plans - or amendments - are filed with the FCC but, as of now, you are only adding the CAP/EAS to your existing state plan.
     
  2. What happens if I do not have a CAP/EAS receiver installed and operating by June 30th.
    If that is the case, you are in violation and can be fined. It is not expected that any special enforcement will start right away, but some routine inspections could happen and if the new receiver is not installed and operating, a fine could be levied.
     
  3. But what if I have one ordered, but it has not been delivered and is on backorder?
    The FCC indicates that enough time was granted that you should have a receiver. If you have documented that you ordered a receiver prior to the end of the month, it will be up to the field agent and/or Commission as to whether they will cite you. 

    One of the FCC Field Agents said in a talk that it may be to your advantage - if you are not compliant on June 30th, to:
         1) be proactive.
         2) write your manufacturer/supplier, asking for confirmation of payment and expected delivery date.
         3) put a copy of the purchase order and letters in the rack where the CAP/EAS box should be.
         4) Use Section 11.35 and notify your Resident Agent that you have equipment out for repair or on order.
     
    Still, do not expect a lot of sympathy if an order placed on June 21st has not been delivered in time.
     
  4. According to the 5th Report and Order, can I ask for waiver?
    Yes. There is a provision for stations in severe situations, such as where there is no high speed Internet. However, stations (1) must file for a wavier, (2) have a substantial "story," and (3) realize it is a high hurdle to get a wavier - according to the FCC, waviers will be hard to get.
     
  5. I have heard the IPAWS CAP RWTs are ending. How do I know I am connected?
    That is true. After June 30th, you can expect "a couple" of Monday tests from the FEMA. Then, according to the lastest information, they will end. There is no current plan for "regular" testing. Realistically though, this is a digital connection, so an indication of the successful polling of the IPAWS server should suffice for station "confidence." (Most CAP/EAS receivers have such an indication. Some of them say "Connected" or "OK" and some have a colored indication.) Reports from the field indicate manufacturers need to have a better way to display this information on the unit and/or screen display. A periodic test would also be welcomed by the broadcast commnuity, to ensure the receiver options are set correctly. But this has not been planned as of now.
     
  6. How often should I poll the IPAWS server?
    Some suggestions range from every 30 seconds, to 60 seconds, to as long as 5 minutes. At this time it is up to the station. A slide on a FEMA presentation says 30 seconds. Some receivers default to 60 seconds. In the future, when state and local alerts may be transmitted by CAP, some may feel there is a need to be on the slower end of the scale, but many system experts say 30 seconds is too often.
     
     
  7. Do I have to log the tests from the IPAWS server?
    Yes.  ALL tests received - and decoded - should be logged, according to the FCC. Tests from other states/areas that are not in your decode chart are not required.
     
  8. If there is a problem with the IPAWS RWT tests, what should I do?
    The FCC currently says that stations may just put "Did not receive RWT from IPAWS" or some such notation. There is no urgent need to search out and log the reason. If we know of any missing tests, we will note them here (See the one above regarding timing today, and the one below, relating to missed tests.)
     
  9. Will the FEMA have a web page to explain problems/errors?
    According to the FEMA, not at this time. Their main concern is that you have a "connected" status. Beyond that, they will distribute information as available, but not necessarily on any schedule.

 

6/18/12 - The IPAWS CAP test for last Thursday (15th) did not go out to the Mountain Time Zone stations.

6/12/12 - For those three people left on the planet who do not know: The FCC issued a Public Notice that essentially removes any doubt about the June 30th deadline for the CAP/EAS receiver requirements. The deadline is June 30th - and they do not intend to adjust that. The FCC says: "This means any necessary equipment must be installed and operational by that date."

Some stations that have not acted - or are still are awaiting software (see below) - will be very busy with CAP/EAS issues for the rest of the month, hoping nothing else breaks during the next two weeks. 

The mandate to install and connect your new EAS receiver by June 30th includes receiving the feeds from the IPAWS server at the FEMA. Other CAP servers relate to different state plans, but the only one that is required is to poll the IPAWS server.

SAGE USERS: Yes, the CAP software finally arrived - but there was a bug or two. Version 88 failed to provide DNS name resolution in some cases, and some labels were wrong. The company has posted new software.

IPAWS OPEN CAP RWT   Regarding the IPAWS CAP server: an IPAWS RWT is being sent each weekday at 10:05 AM local Standard time.  (one hour later during DST) By the way, that is predicated on the state's time for the majority of the state. (If you are in a state with split time zone, you could be an hour earlier or later.)

JUNE HEADS UP! The FEMA has announced that their RWTs will be done each done Monday through Friday until June 29th to help stations - especially those still waiting for software from Sage - to be able to check out their receivers more than once a week. The increased RWTs begin Monday the 11th.

Currently the DASDEC, Trilithic, TFT, and Gorman-Redlich units do have software to receive these tests. Sage announced they will be releasing an update sometime in April; yes, it is quite late. Until the new software is released Sage receivers will not work with the IPAWS CAP server. (as of 6/6/12, Sage was still "promising.")

BUG FIX!!!  5/2/12 - Digital Alert Systems has released their third generation of CAP software for the DASDEC receivers. Additionally, there is a critical alert regarding a firmware bug in the Crucial solid state drives, and an relatively simple fix.
 

STATE PLANS For those worried about the requirements in Part 11 about the State Plan and State Map, the FCC is not expecting new State Plans. At this point, they are asking for "Amendments" to existing plans - and the maps are for a future time.

- - -

6/12/12 - A confirmation for those of you with Sage receivers: the promised software is finally available on the sagelartingsystems.com site.  http://sagealertingsystems.com/support-firmware-new.htm

6/6/12 - The FEMA IPAWS and NASBA and NAB put on a web broadcast to discuss the status of CAP/EAS and the coversion issues. The program is archived at https://eiip.webex.com  .... Click on "View Event Recordings"

5/18/12 - Digital Alert Systems announced they were the first of the EAS receiver manufacturers to complete the streamlined certification requirements established by the FCC in the Fifth report and order.  And the only one so far. 

5/3/12 - What we learned at NAB 2012 - Richard Rudman
                       Last Call for the EAS Clock  - First Call for New State Plans

For those of you concerned about the FCC and the National EAS Test reports:

4/27/12 - CLARITY:

         In terms of the report for the National EAS Test, stations are required to file some simple
         items for their main, full power facilities: 

  • Station's Legal Name

  • FRN

  • whether you retransmitted the alert;

  • if you were not able to receive and/or transmit the alert, their "best effort" diagnostic analysis regarding the cause(s) for such failure;

  • a description of your station identification and level of designation (PEP, LP-1, etc.);

  • the date/time of receipt of the EAN message by all stations;

  • the date/time of PEP station acknowledgement of receipt of the EAN message to FOC;

  • the date/time of initiation of actual broadcast of the Presidential message;

  • who you were monitoring at the time of the test, and the make and model number of the EAS equipment that they utilized.

     (See Third Report and Order, February 2, 2011    Page 22, paragraph 54

You may wish to add more information, but it is not required.

Similarly:
BOOSTERS: Not required. They are within the main signal.
TRANSLATORS: Voluntary. Stations may provide what information they wish, but it is not required.

Again: if you are unsure if your earlier report was accepted (Many stations mixed the FRN and Facility ID, and the FCC may not have matched them): email Tim May <timothy.may@fcc.gov> and ask about the status of your station(s). Use your facility number, calls, and location.

Since Mr. May is the "keeper" of the reports, they probably can be sent to him directly:

Timothy May
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Questions?  Let us know and we will try to help.


4/24/12 - A meeting with FCC and FEMA personnel brought some clarity to some of the questions circulating these past few weeks.

We spoke with an FCC lawyer about this during the NAB show. He said that no station need be anxious unless they purposely did not do the National EAS test nor report.

At this time, there is no policy in place about citing for violations. Mainly they want to get the reports ... But they will not beg.

For those who want to check their status: As has been said before, the proper way to handle this is to email Tim May <timothy.may@fcc.gov> and ask about the status of your station(s). Use your facility number, calls, and location.

There may not be an instant answer, because of the volume of requests, but there is no need to panic. 

If Mr. May responds that they do not have your reports on file, there is still no reason to panic. A paper report can still be filed .. just take the data from your EAS logs, etc... and file.

Need to find the instructions?  Go here.

The FCC said, in part, "Broadcasters may note in the Explanation field of Form 3 that they use or own such facilities and may submit information about their translator, booster, and/or satellite facilities via paper submission (e.g., Excel spreadsheet). If submitting a paper filing, Broadcasters are encouraged to include each facility's FCC-issued Facility ID number, the latitude and longitude of the facility, and the main, full-power facility from which it should have received the EAN."

Note: Boosters, by their nature are within the 60 dBu coverage and in November were said not to be needed on a report. Translators: If you do not own the translator, you are not required to file a report. (If you decide to list the translators you know about, you may wish to note that reception (or whether the translator was on the air on that date) is not verified, as it was not under your control.)

Discussions are under way to determine when enforcement action will be appropriate, but those who have been and are trying now in good faith, will not have any trouble. In other words, more info will come before fines.

 

4/19/12 - The FCC has reversed itself and dropped the ban on Text-to-Speech (TTS) use for local EAS receivers. The entire FCC Order on Reconsideration is located here

Quoting the key parts of the FCC Order:

8. Accordingly, pursuant to section 1.108 of our rules,23 on our own motion we reconsider and revise section 11.56(a)(2) of our rules to replace the parenthetical phrase "except that any and all specifications set forth therein related to using text-to-speech technology and gubernatorial 'must carry' shall not be followed" with the phrase "except that any and all specifications set forth therein related to gubernatorial 'must carry' shall not be followed, and that EAS Participants may adhere to the specifications related to text-to-speech on a voluntary basis."

24 We also revise footnote 118 of the Fifth Report and Order to delete the phrase "While we do not permit the construction of EAS audio from a CAP text message at this time . . . "

25 and revise footnote 496 of the Fifth Report and Order to delete the phrase " . . . we will not allow EAS Participants to use text-to-speech software configured in their EAS equipment to generate the audio portion of an EAS message . . ."

26 With these revisions, we hereby defer consideration of the ECIG Implementation Guide?s adoption of TTS software configured in EAS equipment to generate the audio portion of an EAS message, and thus neither require nor prohibit EAS Participants from following the ECIG Implementation Guide's specifications on use of TTS.

4/10/12 - We are seeing a series of warnings that stations are required to disable the Text-to-Speech (TTS) capabilities of the new generation EAS/CAP receivers by April 23rd. HOWEVER, other reports say the date is June 30th, to coincide with the CAP implementation.

To paraphrase a key part of their most recent order, the FCC will not allow the use of text to speech software on an EAS device to generate the audio portion of an EAS message. This particular language is buried in a footnote - somewhere in the 400 range). Of course, since the FCC does not regulate state and local EMs, the order only covers broadcast facilities.

Several entities are petitioning the FCC to correct/clarify this situation, so stay tuned for further information. Eventually it will escape from the Beltway (aka the Time Dilation Bubble).

3/26/12 - The NAB has reported that the FCC may be considering, after all, to issue fines to stations that did not file their National EAS Test reports - as much as $5,000. Such reports must now be on paper (the electronic filing option is closed), and if your station is delinquent, this is a warning to "get it done, now!"

3/24/12 - The FCC has posted the full report of the CAP EAS working group in the FCC's Communications, Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC).  This advisory body voted unanimously on March 22nd to adopt the working group report. An inside summary by a participant in the meeting is located here.

3/22/12 - The Fifth Report and Order was published in the Federal Register today. There is a 30 day period for petitions, etc, and then it goes into effect. One of the more important things you should know is that the use of the Text-to-Speech functions of the EAS receivers is prohibited at this time.

3/21/12 - The FCC still has not finished its study of the November National EAS Test. Some stations still have never sent in their reports - that is 40% are still outstanding! Currently, stations can no longer file via the Internet, but they can send in paper reports.

3/14/12 - There were several meetings earlier this week with folks from NASBA, the BWWG, the FCC, and the FEMA regarding EAS implementation. Some of the key information:

  • The FCC does not see another extension of the EAS/CAP clock, current due to expire on June 30th.
  • The FCC said the 5th Report and Order should be printed in the Federal Register within the next week.
  • The FEMA has filed a petition for reconsideration with the FCC regarding the text-to-speech issue, where the FCC has currently prohibited use of that feature of CAP decoders.
  • The ECIG (EAS CAP Industry Group) also filed comments related to the text-to-speech issue and the "streamlined" certification process.
  • A new code, NPT, will be adopted for national EAS tests.
  • NOAA will begin a CAP feed sometime in April.

3/5/12 - Want to set up a DASDEC to poll the CAP Server?

2/20/12 - Several entities are pressing the Commission to permit Text to Speech operations, even with gear that does not meet all the new standards.

1/10/12 - The 5th Report and Order has been released. It can be found here. Some of the main points so far:

  • No Governor Must Carry ... that potential political mess was averted.
  • CAP converters may be sunsetted in 2015, unless they meet the new standards for Intermediary Devices for outputting EAS text. Then they may continue to be used.

  • The EAT is no more. 
  • The FCC will do certification along ECIG guidelines, and look favorably on those that have passed the FEMA tests.
  • No text to speech is authorized at this time. However, several groups, including the Washington State SECC is already discussing this with the FCC to get permission.

1/10/12 -  The FEMA now says they have the CAP server running properly from a new location and the RWTs are being sent (see 12/7/11). Any deviation from their announced schedule is to be posted on the EAS Forum. You are welcome to subscribe here.  The confidence factor needs to be rebuilt as several times in recent weeks broadcasters have had to tell the FEMA twice that their server was down, even when the FEMA said it was working.

1/9/12 -  It is worth mentioning that the FEMA CAP server is not up reliably yet.  It has been up and down since the December holidays. If you have one of the CAP/EAS receivers that currently have software to connect to the FEMA server, but aware that you cannot count on the FEMA server as yet. 

1/6/12 -  The BWWG has filed an ex-Parte pleading with the FCC not to implement the Goverenor's Must Carry plan,  and not to subject the EAS to political issues, especially where markets straddle states.

1/2/12 -  The next FCC open meeting is scheduled for January 31.  We'll let you know right away if the new Rules are released.

12/29/11 - The FCC has published in the Federal Register its official change of the date of compliance with CAP/EAS standards to June 30, 2012. It only mentions the Part 11 changes coming, but does make a statement about the CAP Converters sold by some manufacturers. The FCC says that it has not yet decided about the viability of the intermediary devices, and that it is unclear if converters will be able to meet the Part 11 requirements.

12/22/11 - The deadline for reporting the reception (or not) of the Nationa EAN Test on November 9th is this coming Tuesday, December 27th. May we make a suggestion? While the FCC has made a point of saying enforcement is not expected on any but the most egregious scofflaws, make a copy of the report you send in to the FCC, whether by mail or by web form. Print it out and keep it handy, just in case you need to show later that you made the report. More info and instructions here.

12/22/11 - The FEMA has released a new online course designed by Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), for emergency managers and others. The course, IS-247, is designed to support and test skills needed to draft more appropriate, effective, and accessible warning messages and to teach practices for the effective use of Common Alerting Protocol (CAP).
 
Anyone can go through the course and file the test, seeking certification. (It will also give broadcasters an idea of what local EMs are expected to know.)

The FEMA expects to require this training for all emergency warning centers before they are permitted to upload warnings to the FEMA OPEN aggregator server. Completion of IS-247 will also be required for any alerting official to send an alert via IPAWS, and is also to be made part of the NIMS (National Incident Management System), and certification being required in order for agencies to get federal funding.

12/20/11 - If you have been having trouble getting a connection to the IPAWS OPEN CAP server, it is because it was off line for OPEN EAS for the past six days. The server EAS output to broadcasters apparently was shut down for a CMAS test with wireless carrier in certain  areas last week. The OPEN EAS was restored this afternoon, and should be accessible now to EAS receivers that have the software to do so, such as the DASDEC.

12/12/11 - An EAS "test" gone wrong at Verizon has alarmed customers in New Jersey. The alert, which turned up on cell phones and data services in three counties, warned of a Civil Emergency and told people to "seek shelter."

12/7/11 - FEMA announced that they will be sending an OPAWS OPEN CAP EAS test each week from the FEMA CAP server starting Monday, December 12th. The tests will run at 11AM in each US time zone from Guam (UTC +10) to American Samoa (UTC -10). For those states with multiple time zones, the largest area will determine when the test is sent.

11/29/11 - FEMA held a web broadcast to officially announce the National EAS Test was a success. Diagnosis for the problems with the audio during the National EAN Test - the output of an EAS encoder being backfed into the conference bridge - placed blame on the failure of the FEMA Failsafe (... see the item dated 11/12/11 below).

During the discussion, which saw a number of questions raised and discussed, FEMA and FCC representatives said they learned a lot from the test - and after they finish reviewing the reports, plan to issue the new Part 11 Rules.

The three-minute delay experienced by some EAS receivers holding the test until the time programmed in the headers (2:03 PM) was explained as an incorrect setting on the FEMA encoder.

A highlight of the discussion was when Suzanne Goucher of the Maine Assn. of Broadcasters revealed that Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) plans to introduce legislation in the US Senate to direct FEMA to officially authorize the IPAWS program created by President Bush in 2006, but never made into law. The Bill would create an advisory committee to direct EAS training by FEMA would be incorporated into the National Incident Management System (NIMS); all entities wishing FEMA funding would have to be trained on EAS operations. FEMA funds would be allocated by law for this, to ensure some Congressional oversight of the IPAWS program.

Other information mentioned during the broadcast included mention that another National Test will be planned, likely next year; the need to deal with the sociology of warnings where people tend to ignore them; the need to deal with the TV/Cable issue where systems force-tune viewers to one feed, rather than letting viewers stay with local stations; and suggestions that future tests have clear goals and a definition of success or failure set out before the next test.

11/22/11 - Stations are now able to connect to the FEMA IPAWS-OPEN CAP server, according to those who have the right software in their EAS receivers. According to several reports the server - which had been promised online by September 30th - finally went "hot" in the last few days.

The FEMA currently plans to run a daily schedule of four test messages for each time zone,  probably to be announced at their web broadcast next week.

11/3/11 - REGARDING THE RMT for November. The FCC has indicated no RMT is necessary in November, as the National EAS Test will serve as the month's RMT.

A Note to everyone: We could sit here and give you paragraphs of quotes from people who thought the National EAS Test was "the best ever" or "a total failure" - and everything inbetween. We could relate some of the finger-pointing that has gone on, from bureaucrats to the Congress - and our opinion of that. However, we are not sure that helps anyone.

If the test had been run by broadcasters, you would have known the problems and solutions within hours. Unfortunately, things do not run quite that fast inside the Beltway. So, until the web broadcast where the FEMA says they will discuss their extensive post-test testing, you may find the explanations below sufficient. When there is a clear narrative of the path ahead, you will find it right here. (Feel free to bookmark this page, we will post something as soon as we know it.)

11/17/11 - The FEMA has announced a web broadcast to discuss the National EAS Test on Tuesday, November 29th at 2:00 PM EST.

11/15/11 - Following the National EAS Test, Rep Greg Walden, R-OR, has announced he plans "bipartisan hearings" on Thursday at the House Communications Subcommittee to question the FCC and the FEMA. Noting that most of Oregon did not receive the test, Walden's sub-committee will ask "what worked, what didn't and where we can go to fix it."

11/14/11 - A hacker in San Francisco has given Anonymous code that could place a fake EAS message on the air.


Info on Filing the FCC Forms:

 The link to the FCC's Form 2 is at:  http://apps.fcc.gov/easnt/home2.cfm
 The link to the FCC's Form 3 is at:   http://apps.fcc.gov/easnt/form3.cfm

        For those having trouble with Form 3 and the FRN number block: There is apparently a space embedded in the box. A backspace should clear it if you do not have the number to insert.

11/12/11  THE ANSWER to the audio mess!

        After analyzing the EAN audio, it has been confirmed that a hardware failure related to a PEP station - WCCO - was the cause of the audio loop back to the FEMA sending source - a conference bridge. That affected most everyone who got their test via a path from the FEMA PEP bridge and explains why the audio from sample points around the country are very similar.

            If you follow the stations in the chart below, there seems to be some correlation between the decoders that worked and those that did not. There were two aspects that appear to be involved:

  1. The headers. A receiver needs to decode two of the three data bursts to initiate a valid alert. If the signal or audio is marginal, this could cause only one data burst to be "recognized" ... which on some machines (the digital Sages, for example) would cause whatever was on the air to be stopped - then silence until the EOM was received.

  2. The audio levels. It seems like some receivers were very touchy on audio levels, causing distortion that might make it harder for the bursts to be decoded.  Previous tests had shown most EAS receivers could decode bursts with significant distortion, but some of the newer digital machines apparently had trouble if the levels were not in a narrow range.

        Reports also indicate that some with DASDEC receivers got the audio and WAITED
 until 2:03 EST to play the EAN, just as the receiver was designed - to react to the time stamps on the alert. One state was late into their test as the feed from FEMA was unexpectedly lost, and that or something similar may be part of the lack of audio in two other states. Oregon Public Broadcasting was said to have had technical issues, preventing most stations in the state from getting the test.

         We are still chasing down what happened in the places where no audio was received at all.  It does seem that some EAS receivers, upon receipt of a header, mute audio. If, it is postulated, the rest of the header was not decoded properly, it could have left the stream with no audio.  More answers are expected, as the bureaucrats say, RSN.

In the meantime, we will try to offer some more diagnostic info for any of you who want to do more analysis. Here is some other audio,as recorded around the country (if you can add to the information, please let us know!):

EAN Source

 Encoder

Receiving Station

Decoder

Notes
KIIM, Tucson, AZ   KOHN, Sells, AZ TFT

2

KFWB, Los Angeles - PEP Sage KNX, Los Angeles Sage-D

5

KNX, Los Angeles   KLTX, Long Beach, CA Sage-D

5

KFI, Los Angeles   KXLA/KXOL, Los Angeles  

5

KCBS, San Francisco   KQED, San Francisco Sage-D

1

NPR Squawk   KQEI, Sacramento Sage-D

5

KCBS, San Francisco - LP1   KTRB, San Francisco Sage

1

WTAM - Cleveland   WHBC, Canton OH  

1

    WQXK, Salem, OH  

5

WHKO, Dayton, OH - LP1   WSWO-LP, Huber Heights, OH DASDEC II

5

WASK, Lafayette, IN   WBAA, West Lafayette, IN TFT

5

WHO, Des Moines, IA - PEP      

1

    WRKO, Boston  

1

    WICY, Canton, NY Burk

4

NPR - PEP   WMRA, Harrisonburg, VA Burk

4

NPR Squawk   WUVT, Blacksburg, VA Sage-D

5

    KORD, Richland, WA  

1

    KPTZ, Port Townsend, WA   

3

KLBJ, Austin, TX  (TSN?) Sage KUT, Austin, TX Sage

2

KJXJ, Franklin, TX   KUTX, Somerville, TX  

5

KNOW, MN Public Radio Sage KVSC, St Cloud, MN Sage-D

3

    WRVM, Suring, WI  

4

    KNOW, Mpls/St. Paul, MN  

1

WJR, Detroit - PEP Sage      
NPR   WKAR - State Primary Sage

 

WKAR - State Primary Sage WCSG, Grand Rapids, MI  

1

WKAR - State Primary Sage WHMI, Howell, MI TFT

5

WKAR - State Primary Sage Michigan Radio Network TFT  
Michigan Radio Network TFT WTCM, Traverse City, MI TFT

5

KFYR - PEP   KDLR, Devils Lake, ND DASDEC II

1

WSM-FM - PEP, Nashville, TN   WFCM, Murfreesboro, TN DASDEC II

1

WQDR, Raleigh, NC - PEP   WVJD-LP, Raleigh, NC Sage-D

5

WDCG, Raleigh, NC   WQDR, Raleigh, NC Sage

1

WJGH, Jacksonville, FL - LP1 Sage WYRE, St. Augustine, FL Sage

4

WFBC-FM - LP1   WCKI, SC DASDEC II

2

Notes:

  1. Looped Audio, but understandable

  2. Looped Audio, very difficult to understand

  3. Completely unusable audio - truncated

  4. Completely unusable audio - feedback

  5. Silence aside from databursts and/or a few words (often affected by processing)


  TV AND SATELLITE VIDEO:
          
       Twin Cities Public Television, Minneapolis, MN

Don Heppelmann says: "The bottom four boxes are KSMQ-DT in Austin Minnesota.
TCPT provides their master control, but they do their own EAS.
The Four middle boxes are Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, and Comcast.
The rest are Twin Cities Public Television over the air services."

 

 
WAS THE NATIONAL EAS TEST DOOMED AT THE SOURCE?

   FIRST OF ALL:  It was a test!  It was only a test!  No matter what the national media or Lady Gaga lovers say, it was a test. It was largely, in that sense a success, because if nothing else, most every receiver got the header and opened.  If nothing else, it is much clearer what needs to be fixed.  And, since most of the EAS is volunteer, it gives some impetous to make some changes in the relationship between mandated broadcasters and the feds.

    Audio from NPR shows that the "echo" and the looping may well have started at FEMA. There is some thought that the way EAN works is that when the header came around again, the receivers grabbed it and "overrode" the first test. That would explain the tones on top of the message.

    Some other audio from around the country (the calls may be
       

AND SO IT GOES!

     Reports from around the country indicate a lot of things need to be worked on.

        There were tones over audio, low level audio, echo, aborted audio, and more. Some stations only got the EAS tones and no audio. Others got six words and then silence.

      It appears that Oregon mostly did not get the EAN, those that got anything only got tones. This was also reported in Minnesota.

      However, here is the bright side: in most cases, the EAS boxes did receive and decode the EAN headers.  Perhaps it is time now to address the audio chain..... perhaps put some broadcasters on to it???

       Not too many locked boxes reported as yet.

          Regarding Form2 ... it does not have to be filed this day.  Relax.  More info to come!

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

  • Check to make sure your EAS box is operating, exactly as in its "normal" setup condition.

  • Do nothing else to your EAS box.

  • ALASKA NOT INCLUDED. Due to severe weather expected, Alaska will not participate.

  • Report to the FCC who you are and what happened during the test.

  • Do NOT allow your news staff nor your morning DJs to "replay" the test under any circumstances. The FCC does not permit EAS and SAME tones to be broadcast outside of actual alerts.

A FEW TIPS ASIDE FROM THE FCC WEB REPORT

In most of the country, the clocks changed Sunday (11/6/11). It is worth checking to see that the display is correct. However, at least some models have the more important UTC time as an internal setting. The UTC time is what is compared with incoming alerts, including the coming National Test with the EAN code.

There will be no EAT with this test.

It is best to ensure that your unit is set for the monitoring assigments in your State Plan - this lets the FCC and FEMA know where the problems are in the system. If there are known problems with the reception of any source, and a change seems needed, the normal path to change things is via the LECC and SECC. However, if you wish to make a change this week, see Question 6 below, as a correction can be expedited.  

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOUR BOX GETS LOCKED UP?

  • Any box - if possible, send an RWT.... quick, easy, EOM sent.

  • TFT - pressing the EOM button does not always work. Unplug, reboot.
  • Sage - Legacy units: Use the "Abort" then "yes" and "yes" buttons on the front panel, or  the "Abort" button on the web page. 
               CAP/unit: On the 3644, you'll also need to reboot after that

  • Burk - power off, reboot

With the Sage or Burk - or any installation using XLRs, for example, you can always bypass the unit by plugging audio directly to the output until you get the unit powered off and rebooted.

UPDATED November 9th Handbook

The FCC has revised the November 9th Handbook, which must be printed and placed at the control point in each station, to reflect the change to a 30 second announcement.
The full Version 2 is 23 pages
Save paper:
            JUST THE TWO CHANGED PAGES - Version 2, pages 5 and 16

                  A compressed Version 2 prints on two pages.
                  A compressed Version 2 prints on four pages

CLARIFYING THE EAS WEB REPORT ISSUES:

11/3/11 - Thanks to Greg Cooke and Tom Beers, clarification has been provided on most of the questions being asked. (You may also want to sign up for the BDR Newsletter. Free, one-time-a-week information you need.)

As has been stated several times, this will be a test. There is no Enforcement action plan at all - unless you do not have a working EAS box, or one out of service for repair.

Question 0: If some information is not available or optional, the form should now permit you to file with nothing in some boxes.  If an answer is required (for translators "EAS Equipment," for example), use "other" and/or "DNA" in the box.

Question 1: The Legal name of the particpant: This is the name on the actual license.

Question 2: Coordinates ... Either 27 or 83 at the transmitter site this time (they may do EAS receiver site another time). It should be in decimal form. A link to the FCC converter is now on the form. (The idea is to have some idea of the coverage of the tests. They would like to generate the EAS "Map Book" that has long been promised.)

Question 3: The cell phone numbers are now "optional." No need to give out a private cell number. Of course, every station needs to have a 24/7 number with the FCC. Use that one.

Question 4: Translators.
             The FCC DOES NOT WANT translators on the Web Report Form 1. They are asking only for full power stations. (This is understood to include LPFM and LPTV.)

             The instruction sheet indicates that the FCC will ask for some information as part of Form 3. But it will be informal. For now, it suggests a spreadsheet type format, but this may change, as well as other submission information. Perhaps it is best to call it a work in progress.

              Ultimately, the goal is to learn where the EAN is broadcast, what your whole footprint is.  (Since most translators are not owned by stations, exactly how this is going to be reported - and how transmission can be verified ... or if it can - is still up in the air.)

                 If you do report translators owned by your company, the "monitoring source" is the "home station." EAS receiver information is not required (use "other" or DNA).

                 Boosters, by definition, are within the 60 dBu contour, so are not reported.

Question 5: LPFM. LPFMs are to run the EAN just as everyone else.

Question 6: All stations should stick to the State Plan for monitoring. If you cannot receive one or both of the sources you have been assigned, send an email to nationalEAStest@fcc.gov for an expedited wavier of the State Plan. Even if this is not done before the test, this will not be a cause for Enforcement action. It is advised that you also notify the SECC and LECC about this issue. However, even if they do not act, the FCC will take care of this if you send the email to the address above.

Question 7: Non-participating stations. The FCC does not have a strong policy on this. Given that it is a short 30 second test, their desire is for all to participate. (Going off the air for under a minute seems not worth the effort.)

Question 8: Silent stations. These are not, of course, expected to relay the EAN Test. However, they must file a report, and explain they missed the test because they were off the air.

Question 9: HD channels. There is no need for for reporting of additional programming channels. The main carrier is sufficient for the FCC.

11/3/11 - And the changes keep on comin': Now, FEMA has informed the world that the National Test audio will be only 30 seconds in length. (So much for the concept of testing the "2 minute" length on the EAS boxes.)
 
Part of the change appears related to a filings by the disabilities community and the NCTA (National Cable Television Association) to delay the test because of potential confusion to the deaf. Janet Napolitano (Secretary of Homeland Security) made the change rather cancel the test.

11/3/11 - An FCC presentation of information on the EAS Test.  You can listen to a Field Agent explain.

11/2/11 - SAGE OWNERS NOTE!  If you have a new Sage EAS box, you need to take care to set the levels in and out very carefully.  There have been reports of inputs that fail and crosstalk happening if the levels are set too high. Some suggest input be set about 32 and the output about 18. (These are only "serving suggestions," but you are likely to have better success if you are somewhere in that neighborhood.)

11/1/11 - The NCTA (National Cable TV Association) wrote to FEMA asking that the November 9th test be postponed. Apparently a number of cable systems are not ready for the National EAS Test and suggest that deaf or hard-of-hearing people might be confused by the text display. The letter, to Craig Fugate, FEMA head, asks for more time before many cable systems will be ready.

10/28/11 - As to the many questions about the use of the information requested and potential problems, the word here is that the Enforcement Bureau is "on-board" and *no action* is contemplated from any part of the FCC *except* for those stations that do not have an endec installed and working. The field agents will be randomly listening to stations, but only to determine how the test sounds on the air.

10/25/11 - The FCC has developed a website for reporting the results of the National EAS Test. For those of you who have not realized it:

  1. You must download, print out, and place at your control point the "FCC EAS Handbook for November 9, 2011" - A SPECIAL HANDBOOK FOR THIS TEST and NOT the one that you have now.
     
    SAVE PAPER!: See the top items above.
     

  2. You can report to the FCC on your station and its reception of the EAN test in two ways.

    1. By written form mailed or couriered to the FCC

    2. By using the FCC's web site reporting screen.

YOU MAY WANT TO USE THE MAIL/COURIER METHOD.

       If so, you are required by the Third Report and Order to send two copies
       of the following information to the FCC for each source monitored- before December 27th:

  • whether you received the alert message during the designated test;

  • whether you retransmitted the alert;

  • if you were not able to receive and/or transmit the alert, their "best effort" diagnostic analysis regarding the cause(s) for such failure;

  • a description of your station identification and level of designation (PEP, LP-1, etc.);

  • the date/time of receipt of the EAN message by all stations;

  • the date/time of PEP station acknowledgement of receipt of the EAN message to FOC;

  • the date/time of initiation of actual broadcast of the Presidential message;

  • the date/time of receipt of the EAT message by all stations;  (Note: This may no longer be operative)

  • who you were monitoring at the time of the test, and the make and model number of the EAS equipment that they utilized.

     (See Third Report and Order, February 2, 2011    Page 22, paragraph 54

      HOWEVER - Do expect the FCC to make some changes, without notice - and at the last minute.
    

IF YOU WANT TO USE THE WEB REPORT FORMS:

FIRST: Download the FCC November 9th Handbook.
            Get it here.

THEN: Go to: http://apps.fcc.gov/easnt/home1.cfm
             ... and fill out Form 1 BEFORE November 9th

           According to the FCC it will take you between .034 and 20 hours to complete this task.

           !

         Forms 2 and 3 will go hot on November 9th to report the actual test.
         It appears you will have to enter all the data again ... each time,
         for each station in your cluster....  

             There are a few known problems with the Form ... and we hope
         the FCC acts quickly to eliminate the uncertainties.
         For example, some fields on the form are only 35 characters long.
         And the form does ask for your Facility Number and the
         coordinates of your transmitter - in decimal notation. Since licenses
         and other data are in NAD27, you should be able to use that.

         (For those of you mystified by the request for decimal coordinates for
         your transmitter, a conversion tool is here:
         http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/audio/bickel/DDDMMSS-decimal.html )
         If you have a hand calculator, this will also work:
        
Example:  Convert 33 degrees 23' 42" to decimal.
 
              1. 1 / 60 * 23 (one divided by 60 times 23) = .383332.
              2. Put that (.383332)  in Memory
              3. 1 / 3600 * 42 (one divided by 3600 times 42) = .011663
              4. Add that (.011663) to the number (.38332) already in memory.
              5. Put the original degrees number in fromt.
              6. The answer is 33.394995.

THE GENERAL INFORMATION SITE IS:

http://www.fcc.gov/nationwideeastest

 ... an alternative URL to the same location is:
http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/emergency-alert-system-nationwide-test

Still confused?  You might look to your DC Attorney (or their newsletters) to answer specific questions...

Broadcast Connection

10/12/11 - In preparation for the National EAS Test, the NAB has produced a one sheet checklist and information page, along with some PSAs for stations to use in the next month.

9/27/11 - Reports are starting to trickle in regarding the Nevada State EAS Test, a sort of dress rehearsal for the National EAN test in November. The test, sent from Washington via two PEP stations in Las Vegas and Reno, was carried by about 200 stations. A few equipment failures or operator errors did happen, but by and large officials were pleased with the test.

9/16/11 - As expected the FCC issued the Public Notice on the CAP-EAS extension this morning. The file is located here.

9/15/11 - Late this afternoon, the FCC extended the CAP-EAS Compliance Deadline to June 30, 2012.

9/12/11 - After two months of web seminars, FEMA is almost ready for the big National EAS Test. One more web Town Hall meeting will be held at the end of September, but before that Nevada will hold a "mini-National-EAS-Test" on September 26th. This statewide test should be a last preview of how things are working before the national effort.

9/8/11 - FEMA has scheduled its last web FEMA EAS Town Hall meeting for September 30th at 1:30 PM EDT.

9/1/11 - There has been no word out of the FCC cregarding any further extension of the EAS Receiver Deadline. However, there has not been any word from FEMA nor the FCC about the CAP server addresses and passwords, etc...  So, in some areas, the new system is up and running. In others it will still be months. Check with your SECC for current information.

7/20/11 - The nest leg of the FCC process has been completed. The Comment period for the FNPRM closed with 26 applications this week. For more information ... check this page.

7/7/11 - The FEMA web seminar today included a presentation of a "Best Practices Guide" for the upcoming National EAS Test.  The pdf is available here.

6/20/11 - The Part 11 FNPRM is now published in the Federal Register, starting the comment period.  
          Here is the link to the FNPRM.

          More information, how to file, etc. is here.

          A quick look at some highlights from the FNPRM
.

6/14/11 - A quick look at some high points of the FEMA Roundtable - Adrienne Abbott

Key thoughts to remember:
        1. The "clock" is broken. But now that there are products that have passed the FEMA Conformity Assessment, it is time to plan purchases.
        2. The FCC and FEMA have announced that the National EAN test will be Wednesday, November 9, 2011. The test will NOT involve the CAP.

6/6/11 - With TFT's Model 3320 now having passed the IPAWS-CA, all the main players are on board, at least in terms of CAP compliance. The comparison grid has been updated.

4/29/11 - The next step after passing the FEMA Conformity Assessment is for manufacturers to file an SDoC (Suppliers Declaration of Conformity) with the government, and have the listing placed on the FEMA Responder Knowledge Base. Digital Alert Systems has become the first to be so listed.

4/6/11 - FEMA's testing contractor, Eastern Kentucky University, has now finished its tests and three units now have passed the FEMA IPAWS Conformity Assessment. After the CA report and application are filed, these will be added to the Responder Knowledge Base (RKB).
 
The reports should be released within the next three weeks and then entered on RKB site. According to the vendors, the Digital Alert Systems' DASDEC-II, Monroe Electronics' R189 One-Net, and the Sage Digital Endec all met the FEMA and IPAWS standards.

3/30/11 - Digital Alert Systems and Comlabs have announced an alliance to ensure full interoperability between the DASDEC EAS receivers and the EMnet messaging system, now active in 14 states.

3/18/11 - The BWWG has filed a Petition for Partial Reconsideration with the FCC to clarify and resolve a number of issues with the recent 3rd Report and Order before the promised national EAN test. Meanwhile Sage made an ex-parte presentation to the PSHSB, pressing them to keep the September 30th deadline for new receivers.

3/18/11 - No, the FEMA list of conforming receivers has not been released. The word now is that they plan to do it by the end of the month.

3/14/11 - The big question is asked over and over: When will we have to have the new receivers in place? 

3/10/11 - In answer to a number of requests, a comparison grid has been put together for the current EAS receivers. It is available here. The grid will be updated as more information comes in from manufacturers and the FCC and FEMA move along with their certification programs.

3/8/11 - A National EAS Test is now "allowed" by the FCC, as part of their Report and Order issued last month (see February 3rd, below). Whether there will be one later this year is still being debated. The feds do say they will not do it during hurricane season, and will give at least two months notice to the public, in an effort to prevent panic. The FCC will be requiring a report within 45 days, details still to be worked out.

Remember though: given all the disruption and public notice, this is not something the feds want to do over and over. Hence, it is not unlikely testing will be held up until the CAP receiver - and sender - penetration has covered most of the country. In other words, many now are predicting 2012.

3/4/11 - The FCC still has not released the NPRM for Part 11. Reports, including statements by the FCC's Chief of the PSHSB, Jamie Barnett, indicate there might well be another extension to the "180-day Clock" (we might have to start calling it a calendar!).

And is it possible that the FCC will announce something next month during NAB?

2/15/11 - During a web broadcast, FEMA has promised to provide a list of EAS receivers that meet their certification by mid-March. On the other hand, statements made continue to show the feds thinking the Internet connections will be key to CAP, despite repeated evidence most Internet ISPs lose distribution during major emergencies like floods, tornados, etc.

2/7/11 - Audio and video of the Alaskan EAS test are posted online. If interested, you can see it here. Just scroll down to the January 27th entry.

2/4/11 - During the NASBA/NAB web event, Damon Penn, assistant administrator of the National Continuity Programs Directorate for FEMA said certification for CAP-compliant equipment is in full swing. He anticipates a list of compliant equipment will be finalized and posted in March.

Jamie Barnett, chief of the FCC's Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau, said the commission is now "involved in the lessons learned" from last week's test in Alaska. A draft of Part 11 changes is being reviewed, he said.

2/3/11 - The FCC voted to release its Third Report and Order on the National EAS test procedures. Among the key points: it will be an annual test, stations will be required to send in information afterward, the first national test - likely this fall - will be an EAN, and the PSHSB will run it, in cooperation with FEMA and other stakeholders.

1/26/11 - Digital Alert Systems has introduced two new EAS receivers to its DASDEC II lineup: the DASLC and DASLCR. The manufacturers' recommended starting price is $1995. More information is here.

1/19/11 - FEMA announced this week that by March it plans to have a list on its site of tested and certified EAS receivers that meet IPAWS standards.

1/16/11 - The Alaskan EAN test remains scheduled for Wednesday, January 26th. More info is at: http://www.ready.alaska.gov/test/

1/12/11 - Citing the time required for the upcoming Part 11 rewrite, equipment certification, and other issues, the heads of the Texas and Maine associations of broadcasters filed a petition at the FCC requesting another delay in the clock for EAS/CAP implementation.
 
12/23/10 - in an IPAWS conference last week, comments from a FEMA representative indicated that it might well still be too early to buy an EAS receiver now as they had not yet released a list of equipment that has passed its Conformance Lab testing. In fact, FEMA has changed some of their methodology, which has delayed the process. While they expect to have the results available "soon," without FEMA's blessing on new products, there is a risk that anything purchased will have to be upgraded or retrofitted to meet their standards. So, many folk believe it's really still too early to buy something. The risk is ending up with a product that will cost more down the road.

 

12/10/10 - A new site with updated EAS information and a forum for asking and answering questions about EAS issues has been set up. You may wish to check it out here.

11/23/10 - As was hoped for by many, the FCC today adopted an order to extend the CAP-EAS clock to at least September 30, 2011. The full Order is located here.
 
Now all we need is action on the Part 11 changes!

11/22/10 - Amazingly, it has been almost two months into the "180-Clock" - already 1/3 of the six month "Clock"! - mandating the purchase of CAP enhanced EAS receivers and nothing has been heard from the FCC as yet in terms of signaling their intent on this matter.
 
In order to press the issue of a need for delay, a group of independent EAS stakeholders has filed a petition stressing the need for an extension as well as to get still unaddressed CAP-EAS issues on the record. A summary is posted here.
 
11/8/10 -  Some relief for broadcasters worried about the "180-day Clock" appears to be around the corner. An Order circulated to the FCC Commissioners last week would extend the compliance date to at least September 29, 2011 - with an additional extension if the Part 11 re-write proceeding complicates matters.  Stand by for more info as we get it.

10/21/10 -  Finally! Today, as expected - although it took a little bit longer than to happen than it was thought to take - the NAB, about 46 state broadcast associations, and a half dozen other groups filed a petition with the FCC to extend the 180-day clock. There are some serious issues that should be addressed, and it is hoped that the NAB's petition will spark some dialog with the industry.

The petition is here.  If you want to read all the comments since 2004 (Yes, this has been going on since August 2004!), you can find the FCC link here.
 

 

Questions
Information
Definitions  (if all these abbreviations and acronyms confuse you)       back to the top

Questions:

  • Q: The FCC requires that OTA (over the air relay) must be used when crafting EAS local and state plans, and will continue that requirement when Part 11 has been re-written.
     
    A: Nowhere in Part 11 is it stated that EAS plans must use OTA systems to propagate EAS messages. Wireless state and local relay networks (LRN's) can (and in the opinion of the BWWG should) be used as point-multi-point distribution means for EAS from warning centers to as many broadcast and cable entry points as possible. There will be exceptions, but OTA Relaying of EAS messages (Daisy Chain) is a carry over from EBS and is (and should only be) only used by those who choose to continue to do so in their EAS plans because there is no other alternative.
      
    Washington state and some other areas are already implementing various forms of LRN's for CAP (Common Alerting Protocol) EAS. At the Federal level the need for relay using CAP should end when all entities subject to Part 11 have their CAP boxes installed and have programmed in IP addresses so they can poll CAP message aggregators. OTA Relaying of EAS messages (Daisy Chain) is a carry over from EBS and is only used by those that choose to continue to do so.

     
  • Q: Does CAP play embedded audio files for the voice portion of CAP-EAS messaging for broadcast?

    A:  No. At TV stations the CAP Text Message data stream generates a video screen crawl. The data stream also generates  audio from a text-to-speech feature built into the EAS box. Radio uses the text-to-speech feature. This completely eliminates the problems with poor audio quality for "Classic EAS".  Yes, CAP messages can carry embedded audio files, but to get around payload/throughput problems they can be posted for download and referred to by putting their URL's in the CAP message.

     
  • Q: Is the clock running?  
    A: Yes.  The clock started on September 30, 2010, when FEMA adopted CAP Version 1.2 It wasn't FEMA that started the clock - it was automatic, triggered by an FCC order in May 2007.
     
  • Q: Will there be an extension?  Do we have to buy a new box now?
    A:  The FCC has extended the deadline to June 30, 2012.  They say this is "final." 
     
     
  • Q: What about the CAP Converters?
    A: Several manufacturers have produced add-on boxes that will decode the CAP transmissions and feed them to an existing EAS receiver. At this moment, that would seem to satisfy the FCC's requirements. HOWEVER, the coming Part 11 re-write will include the Governor's Override code. It is not clear if the CAP Converters will be able to handle this at that time. Until the FCC lets us know, it is only a guess.
     
  • Q: What has been settled?
    A: CAP V 1.2 has been adopted by FEMA. The CAP is a very powerful tool that can really improve warnings. (Want to know more about CAP? CAP V 1.2 is described here, 3rd entry from the top.)
     
  • Q: What about IPAWS OPEN?
    A: Version 2.0 partially adopted, but it is not consistent.  V 3.0 is in progress, but it is not backwards compatible.  In other words: more work is needed. More IPAWS info and specs here.
     
  • Q: Will there be changes in Part 11?
    A: Yes.  This is one reason some manufacturers have held back in production of EAS boxes, until the Part 11 changes are known. One specific wild card: the Governors' Override code and function.  Recommendations for changes were submitted by CSRIC on October 7th for national Rules. The FCC would then be expected to call for comments on a Part 11 draft or make a formal Rulemaking. 
     
    Then there is also a big missing link in Part 11 - there is still no firm connection to local emergency management to make sure that warnings and tests originate properly from the people who have the real responsibility to warn -- i.e., the emergency managers. It is doubtful if Part 11 could ever have this included for any number of reasons, but if someone does not address the connection between warning origination and broadcast entry points, EAS will continue to be a problem where EAS has been chalked up as a failure, although it will work fine where it has been working -- usually by broadcasters going the extra mile to make it work.  (Washington State, where EAS has been working well, is a good example of the latter case.) 

     
  • Q: Who is in charge of the process: the FEMA or the FCC?
    A: A very good question. A fair part of the controversy right now is that FEMA IPAWS was originally designed to cover only federal issues geared to federal government continuity, not local/state warnings, mandatory governor level and governor-designee messages, or even AMBER Alerts.
     
    IPAWS scope was extended to the state/local level after prodding by SBE, NAB and NASBA, but the all pieces to make this a reality are not in place yet. So, FEMA's work to date does not really take into consideration all the elements of state and local concerns that are definitely part of the FCC's Second Report and Order on EAS. This disconnect needs to be worked out.

     
  • Q: What CAP-Ready products are available?
    A: Monroe/DAS and Sage produce complete CAP ready receivers. TFT and Gorman-Redlich make converters that will piggyback on an existing EAS receiver. Costs range from $1200 to $5000. 
     
  • Q: I heard that my state might provide new EAS receivers at no charge. Is it true?
    A: There are reports that stations in Pennsylvania and Idaho may be receiving new equipment at state expense. However, it is best to check with your state broadcast association to make sure whether or not it covers a particular station/area.
     
  • Q: Something else you'd like to know?  Ask and we shall try to find the answers. Use the contact form below.

Definitions:

CAP - Common Alerting Protocol
IPAWS - Integrated Public Alert and Warning System
OPEN - Open Platform for Emergency Networks
SOAP - Simple Object Access Protocol
CSRIC - Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council
ECIG - EAS-CAP Industry Group

Information:

10/7/10 - The CSRIC report issued today included 33 recommendations to the FCC, including that the "clock" run "no less than one year."

Some other key points from CSRIC:

- get additional clarification from the Commission on the Governors' Must Carry message procedures
- require EAS participants to monitor multiple IP CAP sources under 11.52 - state and local CAP sources
- add ethernet and multiple IP source requirements
- adopt ECIG guidelines
_ update state relay networks 11.20 to accommodate the addition of state CAP relay networks
- add FCC certification for CAP EAS device (extend 11.34)
 

10/1/10 - Clarity: Yes, the "clock" is running. However, there is a growing wave of broadcasters who realize this is not going to work. Even some folks at the FCC PSHSB are worried about this. Expect more than a few filings between now and the October 7th report from CSRIC on Part 11 national EAS recommendations and CAP implementation.

Repeating: Best advice: don't panic.  More to come!
 

9/30/10 - FEMA made official today - they adopted CAP 1.2 ... the announcement is located here. This, however does not start the "clock."  According to FEMA, that is in the FCC's court now.

The FCC, however, in its Second Report and Order, stated:

This Second Report and Order adopts rules that set the framework for a Next
Generation EAS. In this Order, we take the following actions to establish service requirements
for a Next Generation EAS, and establish schedules by which industry segments must transition
to the new system: (1) require EAS Participants to configure their systems to accept EAS alerts
formatted in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) format no later than 180 days after FEMA
announces the technical standards and requirements for CAP-formatted messages; (2) require
EAS Participants to configure their systems to authenticate and validate EAS alerts formatted in
the CAP format no later than 180 days after FEMA announces the standards for authentication
and validation of CAP-formatted messages.

There will likely be some follow-on announcements in the next few days.

Best advice: don't panic.  More to come!
 

9/9/10 - A FEMA representative was quoted as saying FEMA wants to start the "Clock." However, at the same time, they admit to not being close to ready to do the National EAS Test now scheduled for Q1 of 2011.

9/1/10 - CAP Version 1.2 was adopted in June, and work on this standard is now finished. With IPAWS 1.0 adopted earlier in the year, we are now set for FEMA to take action.

Bottom line: the 180-day "Clock" has not yet started. 

You may wish to contact your favorite manufacturer or vendor for further details.


5/25/10 - EAS changes continue to slowly shuffle down the federal pipeline. At a meeting on April 13th, the OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) Emergency Management Technical Committee approved CAP Version 1.2 as a Committee Specification Draft, and voting on adoption has begun.
 
Next, the OASIS standard is expected to be approved sometime after June 30th, at which point formal testing will begin, possibly in July, at the earliest. Depending upon how the testing shakes out, FEMA still intends to announce IPAWS adoption of CAP V 1.2 later this year. More information is available here  and here.