FEMA, FCC to Conduct Nationwide Test of Emergency Alert System

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on Sept. 20, 2018 (primary date) or Oct. 3, 2018 (secondary date).

The purposes of the test are to assess the operational readiness of the public alert and warning systems infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are needed.

The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones beginning at 11:18 a.m. PDT; the EAS portion follows at 11:20 a.m. PDT.

The EAS test will last about one minute and is available to participating radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers. The familiar monthly message will include a reference to the WEA test message, which will read “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Cell phones will display the test message under the header “Presidential Alert.”

The WEA system allows customers whose wireless providers participate in WEA and who own WEA-compatible wireless phones to receive geo-targeted alerts of imminent threats to safety in their areas through unique tones and vibrations. The national test will use the same special tones and vibrations. Cell towers will broadcast the test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, cell phones that are switched on and within range of an active cell tower should be capable of receiving the test message. Cell phones should receive the message once.

The WEA test will be sent through IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System). More information on IPAWS and WEA is available online.

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