Budget Now for EAS Upgrades
January 27, 2023
FCC-mandated changes to the Emergency Alert System are scheduled to go into effect on December 12. These changes may require software and/or hardware updates that broadcasters should budget for now. These updates will be necessary to comply with a recent Report & Order modifying EAS requirements to improve on the clarity and accessibility of EAS messages.
The FCC believes that required greater use of IP-based Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) format alerts will result in more understandable and informative messages.
Gary Timm, Broadcast Chair of the Wisconsin EAS Committee posted this past week that representatives from Digital Alert Systems (DASDEC), Sage Alerting Systems (ENDEC), and Gorman-Redlich all stated that there would be a cost to upgrade their EAS units to comply with this looming new FCC rule. He also writes that "it has come to light that, in particular, owners of older versions of the DASDEC and Monroe One-Net EAS units may need to trade in their current EAS units for a newer model in order to complete the upgrade." There has been no statement yet from manufacturer Trilithic.
Timm adds, "Since some of these upgrades could involve significant time and expense, all EAS participants are hereby encouraged to reach out to their EAS Unit manufacturer to determine the exact cost of this required EAS unit upgrade for their specific EAS unit (you will likely need to give the unit's serial number). Note that you will be obligated to pay for this upgrade in order for your EAS unit to remain compliant with FCC EAS rules. It is not an option. Any FCC inspector noting that you are running older software will immediately know that you are in violation of FCC EAS rules after Dec. 12, 2023."
While no actual costs have been disclosed at this point, the BDR recently published an article discussing the potential costs, depending on what equipment a station may have.
The MAB continues to monitor the issue for our state broadcasters.
The FCC has also proposed additional new requirements focused on the security, and particularly the cybersecurity, of the EAS system in order to prevent either false alerts or interference with legitimate alerts.