Wednesday, November 9, 2011

First Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test Has a Few Glitches

As would be expected with the first test of any system, which is of course why you test things in the first place.

"Problems were reported across the country during the first-ever nationwide test Wednesday of the Emergency Alert System, designed to allow the president to address the American people during a national emergency.

Some television and radio stations did not air the planned 30-second test at all. Some that aired it stayed with the signal longer than others.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission, which ordered the test, stressed that it was designed to find flaws, and scoffed at reports the system had failed.

By late Wednesday afternoon, an FCC official, not authorized to speak on the record, said about one-third of the test participants had filed preliminary reports, and those showed that 80% to 90% of the stations received the alert and were able to rebroadcast it, which was the major criteria of the test.

The official called the failure rate of more than 10% "not insignificant," but said identifying problems "is why we have the test."

He said the glitches were found in all modes of transmission -- broadcast, cable and satellite -- and it was too early to establish patterns. "We'll dig back into it," he said.

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