Earlier today, the FCC’s Fifth Report and Order revising the Part 11 EAS Rules and codifying the obligation that EAS Participants be able to process alert messages formatted in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) was published in the Federal Register. As a result of today’s Federal Register publication, the primary rule changes adopted by the FCC in the Order will be effective April 23, 2012.
If you recall from my previous posts on the matter found here and here, the main focus of the FCC’s Order was to specify the manner in which EAS Participants must be able to receive CAP-formatted alert messages and to clarify the FCC’s Part 11 Rules. Among other things, the FCC took the following actions in its Order:
- It required EAS Participants to be able to convert CAP-formatted EAS messages into messages that comply with the EAS Protocol requirements, following the conversion procedures described in the EAS-CAP Industry Group’s (ECIG’s) Implementation Guide;
- It required EAS Participants to monitor FEMA’s IPAWS system for federal CAP-formatted alert messages using whatever interface technology is appropriate;
- It adopted rules to generally allow EAS Participants to use “intermediary devices” to meet CAP requirements;
- It required EAS Participants to use the enhanced text in CAP messages to meet the video display requirements; and
- It adopted streamlined procedures for equipment certification that take into account standards and testing procedures adopted by FEMA.
Although the FCC’s new rules will be on the books as of next month, EAS Participants actually have until June 30, 2012 to install the equipment necessary to receive and convert CAP-formatted EAS alerts. When this deadline hits, five years or so of FCC CAP-related FCC decisions will come to a close. But don’t worry, the FCC and FEMA have already indicated that CAP is only the beginning of the digital emergency alert era and that more proceedings related to the so-called “next generation” of emergency alerting, including improving the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), will likely be coming soon. Stay tuned.