Urgent EAS Notice: New Equipment Requirements

eas-logo_300MAB ABIP inspector R. Dale Gehman has issued the following advisory.  Please review your EAS equipment immediately to assess your situation.

If you need further assistance, feel free to contact the MAB at (800) 968-7622.

CLIENT MEMO:
R. Dale Gehman – GC&C – June 20, 2016

A new set of EAS Rules and Guidelines adopted by the Federal Communications Commission become effective on July 30, 2016, mandating the following:

1). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes the new FCC EAS ‘FIPS’ Code #000000 (National Location Code).

2). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes and acts immediately to ‘relay‐to‐air’ an EAS Activation received coded with the EAS Event Code; ‘NPT’ (National Periodic Test) that is received with a valid ‘FIPS’ Code.

3). All EAS Participants must register with the FCC’s new ‘EAS Test Reporting System’ (ETRS) once the ‘ETRS’ server is operational. The FCC will release a Public Notice announcing the launch of ‘ETRS’ and that upcoming notice will specify a WEB‐URL link that Stations must use to complete their ‘ETRS’ registration.

4). Once item ‘3’ above occurs; Licensees will have sixty (60) days to establish an account and enter each Station’s data into the FCC’s ‘ETRS’. Once ‘ETRS’ is operational, Stations must log in and report all EAS Activations to the FCC’s Server using the log‐in account registered for each Station.

5). FEMA has scheduled a National EAS Test for Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016 at 2:20 PM EDT. The National EAS Test will originate using the new EAS FIPS Code 000000 (New National Location Code) and using the modified EAS Event Code ‘NPT’ (National Periodic Test).

SIDEBAR:

Unfortunately, many of the original 1996 vintage EAS Decoders/Encoders must now be replaced as they cannot be upgraded to accomplish both the modified response to receipt of an ‘NPT’ Event Code nor can they be upgraded to recognize the new ‘000000’ FIPS National Location Code.

An example of vintage EAS Gear that cannot be upgraded includes, but not limited to; TFT’s EAS911, the Gray SAGE ENDEC and most of the 1996 era EAS boxes.

Most Stations previously upgraded to current vintage EAS Gear that polls FEMA’s IPAWS-CAP Server via the Internet, in compliance with the FCC Rules. Licensees should insure that current vintage EAS Gear has the latest software and firmware updates prior to July 30, 2016!

Stations that continue to operate with vintage EAS Gear that has not been upgraded successfully to recognize the National FIPS Code ‘000000’ and upgraded with a modified response to the EAS Event Code ‘NPT’ – will be in violation of the Rules on August 1, 2016, a violation that subjects the Licensee to a significant monetary assessment and notice of violation upon inspection.

10 thoughts on “Urgent EAS Notice: New Equipment Requirements”

  1. ALL EAS Activations? By that do they mean all Weekly Test transmissions as well as Monthly Test relays for non-LP stations, as well as activations for LPs?

    1. From Dale Gehman:

      Initially, Stations must report all National EAS Tests / Activations to the ETRS.

      It is anticipated that once ETRS has successfully operated for a year – additional EAS Activation Reporting Requirements will likely be added such as the reporting each Station’s Required Monthly Test and possibly other ‘high level’ warning activations at some point in the future.

      Here is an excerpt from the FCC Public Notice establishing ETRS: “In the future, the ETRS could potentially combine with the State EAS Plan Filing Interface, the new online State EAS Plan filing system proposed in the recent “Alert Paradigm” NPRM(3) thus providing authorized EAS stakeholders with a complete and dynamic picture of the EAS
      from the local community to the national level.”

      Again, at startup and likely throughout the first year or so of ETRS, Stations must report all National EAS Tests and Activations to the FCC’s ETRS.

      Hope that helps clarify…

      1. That’s going to be wonderful.

        And it will likely provide a convenient entry point to an FCC inspection regardless of whether a station participates in ABIP or not.

        After all, they will be in a position to self-generate a complaint regarding non-compliance. And responding to a specific complaint bypasses ABIP protection if memory serves.

        “I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help … ourselves to your checkbook”

  2. Please clarify as our TFT EAS-911 does have both the FIPS code of 000000 and the NPT code available to us. We use the EMNet as the internet feed to the box.

      1. From Dale Gehman:

        EMnet or any CAP to EAS Converter System will supply the National FIPS Code ‘000000’ and the Event Code ‘NPT’ to the TFT EAS-911 or the old Gray SAGE ENDEC, etc.

        The problem is that the TFT EAS-911, old Gray SAGE ENDEC, etc., can NOT be upgraded to understand what to do with the FIPS Code ‘000000’ and can NOT be upgraded to modify what happens when the event code ‘NPT’ arrives.

        So again – the problem created by the FCC EAS requirements effective July 30, 2016, impacts Stations who purchased a CAP to EAS Converter and placed it in front of their old 1996 vintage EAS Gear to meet the EAS-CAP deadline back on June 30, 2012.

        Unfortunately, those Stations are now forced to replace their 1996 era gear, (with only a few exceptions), and would have been far better off to have purchased a new generation EAS Decoder/Encoder back when we had to transition to monitoring FEMA’s IPAWS CAP server…now four years ago.

        Bottom Line: The EAS Device operating in-the-program line to interrupt Station programming to deliver EAS to-air…must recognize the new National FIPS Code ‘000000’ AND must properly respond to the newly modified ‘NPT’ Event Code. (The original 1996 ear EAS gear only reported an ‘NPT’ as received and did NOT activate when that event code was received. Stations must now ‘activate’ upon receipt of the National FIPDS Code ‘000000’ AND the Event Code ‘NPT’.)

        1. I understand except what codes were used the last national test? My TFT receiver passed that test along with no problems. I have NPT as an auto-forward and the national FIPS code available.

          1. Kevin..

            Here is Dale’s response to your question:

            The only previous ‘National Test’ was sent by FEMA using the FIPS Code for Washington, DC. (Obviously, that test was a significant failure across the country.)

            The next ‘National Test’ will be sent by FEMA using the newly adopted ‘National FIPS Code# 000000’ and the newly modified Event Code ‘NPT’

            Note that the regional testing by FEMA earlier this year used the FIPS Codes are groups of States.

            From lab testing that has been completed…the TFT-911 will either ‘freak out’ with the FIPS Code#000000 or simply print a statement; “Non-Recognized or Invalid FIPS Code’ and therefore the TFT EAS-911 cannot satisfy the new FCC EAS Requirements that take effect July 30th.

  3. Still confused. TFT auto-forward on my TFT is and has been set to 000000 for the first national test and still is set to auto-forward. Obviously this is not a “new” code. So was the lab-test done on an older ROM version of the 911?

    1. From Dale:

      OK – let’s approach this another way;

      Background:
      In setting up an EAS Decoder…you should ONLY activate the FIPS codes of your Station’s primary coverage area. (You can legally add as many county FIPS as you desire…but you must have at least the one county FIPS code of the county to which the Station is licensed by the FCC.) You may activate only one FIPDS code to serve primarily your city of license’s county…or multiple FIPDS codes to serve all of the counties in your coverage area.

      The one and only previous ‘National Test’ was send with FIPS code of #11001 which is the FIPS Code for Washington, DC., using the EAS ‘Event Code’ of EAN.

      The next ‘National EAS Test’ will be sent at 2:20PM on September 26, 2016, using the new FIPS Code #000000 (six digits) with a newly modified EAS ‘Event Code’ NPT.

      Note that the 1996 Vintage EAS Gear recognizes only ‘five digit FIPS Codes’ which at the time of EAS development in 1996 was all that was needed for all State and County FIPS Codes.

      Do NOT input the six digit ‘National FIPS Code’ #000000 as one of your Stations selected FIPS Codes – (assuming the old ’96 vintage gear will even accept a six digit FIPS code) – as by doing so, that instructs your EAS Decoder to interrupt the Station on all EAS activations in the continental US that matches the selected Event Codes in the EAS Decoder.

      The ‘National FIPS Code’ #000000 is the highest order of FIPS covering the entire US, meaning that all States are activated without having to send all 50 individual State FIPS codes with the EAS Activation.

      Individual State FIPS codes are next highest order of wide area coverage, covering all counties in the State, which is why a State Wide EAS Activation does not have to send out each County’s FIPS Code…but instead the activation statewide occurs by using the ‘State FIPS Code’.

      However, you would NOT want to program your EAS Decoder with a State’s Top Level FIPS Code – as any activation within the State would interrupt your Station vs. interrupting only for EAS activation that are applicable to your coverage area and the selected FIPS Code/s.

      So let’s review what is required as of July 30, 2016;

      a). You must have an EAS Decoder that as part of its internal intelligence – recognizes the new six digit ‘National FIPS Code’ #000000 as the highest order FIPS and instructions your EAS Decoder to activate even though only one or maybe several five digit County FIPS Codes are selected as the Station’s Primary Coverage Area.’

      b). You must have an EAS Decoder who’s internal software/firmware has been updated to change the action of the ‘NPT’ Event Code so that it locks down the Station and relays-to-air a National EAS Test that is received with the six digit FIPS #000000

      SIDEBAR:
      I am not aware of any ‘FIX’ to the EAS-911 or the SAGE Gray ENDEC (or other 96’ era EAS boxes) that can meet the Rules.

      TFT is out of business and I am not aware of any EPROMS that TFT actually released prior to their demise that qualified a TFT EAS-911 to operate after July 30, 2016, and meet the new FCC EAS Requirement.

      Hope that helps…

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